People with ethnic skin can experience pigmentation problems differently to the way that people with fair skin do. Darker skin has greater natural defence from the sun’s ultraviolet light (UVL). People with darker skin tones experience less damage to the skin and fewer signs of aging than those with fair skin. When aging does occur, however, pigmentation changes such as dark marks and discolorations can occur on the skin’s surface. Changes in the skin’s pigmentation as a result of aging is very common in people with African American skin. People with ethnic skin can experience dark patches of pigmentation and light areas of pigmentation on the skin.
There are a number of treatments for your pigmentation problems, depending on the type of problem that occurs. Hyper-pigmentation – darker skin discolorations caused by too much pigment – can be treated with creams, chemical peels and professional therapies. Because of the increased melanin and darker skin tone, treatment of pigmentation problems in ethnic skin can present a higher level of risk. Many dermatologists advise people with ethnic skin not to self-treat their pigmentation problem. Skin lightening creams are available though many of these creams include bleaching agents such as hydroquinone, alpha-hydroxy acids and tretinon. These bleaching agents can cause further problems in your pigment and can result in a loss of color (hypo-pigmentation) in the skin. These skin bleaching creams can cause permanent damage to your skin and exacerbate your pigmentation problems. Hydroquinone can be very harmful, and long term use can lead to blue or black pigmentation in the skin. Hydroquinone is banned in countries such as Japan and South Africa, because of these effects. Do not use creams that contain steroids or mercury. Steroids can cause permanent skin damage such as redness and thinning of the skin. Mercury is a poison.
While there are more natural products available to treat pigmentation problems at home, people with ethnic skin should seek professional advise before trying them. Experienced professionals can accurately identify the root cause of your pigmentation problem and decide which treatments are most appropriate. You may consider undergoing professional treatment such as laser therapy to IPL therapy. Keep in mind that some treatments are not suitable for people with ethnic skin. Be sure to seek advice from a dermatologist or a recognised professional before undergoing any treatment. For example, application of treatments such as laser therapy and IPL therapy need be tailored to your skin type as it can over-lighten skin on dark skin tones. The power of the equipment may need to be decreased in order to safely treat your darker skin tone.
While your skin is naturally more protected from UV rays, you may prevent pigmentation problems by avoiding excess sun exposure. Use a UV sunblock with PA+++ and SPF 30-plus sunscreen, as PA+++ has enough power to prevent ethnic skin from tanning.