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African American Skin

Those blessed with a variety of darker skin tones typically grouped together as African American skin know their skin comes with a variety of benefits and challenges, distinct from those with other types of skin.

The Benefits of Melanin

The main difference between a darker and lighter skin tone is simply the quantity of melanin in the skin cells. Melanin is a pigment, found in not only the skin but also the iris and other parts of the body. It serves a valuable function: protecting the skin against UV radiation from sunlight. Those blessed with darker skin, and therefore a greater amount of this pigment, have likely realized their skin is less likely to burn when exposed to direct sun than those with lighter skin.

This does not mean, however, that individuals with darker skin can altogether ignore sun safety. The skin does burn, and it can be painful and potentially dangerous; sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats, and avoidance of long-term exposure during the sunniest days of summer are still the best way to avoid issues later in life.

Sebaceous Glands: A Two-Edged Sword

People with African American skin often have larger sebaceous glands in their skin than do people with lighter skin tones. These glands are microscopic oil-producing regions that lubricate the skin and hair. This greater production of oil helps hold in moisture and make the skin smoother and look younger.

However, there’s another side to the higher oil production of sebaceous glands. The larger quantity of oil makes acne and other facial inflammations more likely to occur. Furthermore, people with a darker skin tone are more likely to experience what is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation— that is, after an acne spot has healed, the skin overproduces melanin in that area, which can lead to a splotchy look that can last for weeks afterwards.

The best way to combat the overactive sebaceous glands and prevent acne and other unsightly skin difficulties is to diligently clean the skin, particularly the face, especially with products that contain salicylic acid. This substance, a common skin treatment ingredient, helps to prevent the otherwise nourishing oil from clogging pores and causing inflammation.

Questions? Goodman Dermatology can Help

Dr. Marcus Goodman and the whole team at Goodman Dermatology have years of experience treating and offering care tips and advice for those with African American skin. If your skin has a darker tone, or any of the colors of the rainbow, Dr. Goodman would be happy to discuss the best steps you can take to make your skin best reflect your inner beauty. Goodman Dermatology serves Roswell, Johns Creek, Forsyth, Marietta, Woodstock, Canton, Alpharetta, Holly Springs, Norcross, Milton, Cumming, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, and throughout greater metro Atlanta ; call or email, or use our convenient appointment booking portal, to make an appointment today. We have office in Woodstock, GA and Roswell, GA for your convenience.

This web page discusses health and medical issues. The content is not intended to and does not replace medical advice from licensed practitioners or physicians. If you have any questions about a health or medical issue, please contact the staff at Goodman Dermatology or a health care provider in your area.