Adult Acne In Dark Skin: Causes And Treatment

African Americans are more prone to inflammatory acne although the specific reasons are not yet known. In general, acne is seen in teenagers as well as adults of the African American origin. Despite the higher prevalence of pimples in these populations, very few tests have been conducted especially regarding its treatment or cause. Treating hyperpigmentation resulting from acne scars is also a subject of concern that needs to be addressed for this particular skin type. While inflammatory acne is generally easier to treat and takes lesser time to heal; most common procedures used end up lightening the dark skin tissue leading to visible marks.


Acne in dark skin appears where the oil glands are dense, for example on the face, and back (although there really is no restriction and the zits might appear anywhere on the body including the armpits, groin, breasts etc).


The type of acne seen in African American population is less severe compared to that seen in other populations and is mainly inflammatory in nature. The zits may be less painful and are easy to cure. However, as stated before, inflammatory acne treatments cause lightening of skin color in the affected areas. Other common types of acne are rarely seen among African Americans.

Tips to prevent occurrence and reoccurrence of acne in dark skin

  • Some hair care products used for black hair are known to cause acne or aggravate the condition, when they come in contact with the skin. While using such products, try to minimize contact with skin.
  • Most moisturizing products clog pores on the skin leading to accumulation of oil and other particles that in turn cause acne. Choose products that do not clog your pores. They maybe slightly less effective but you will at least prevent acne. Talk to your dermatologist as to which products are best for your skin type.
  • Clean up your skin (face, back and other areas where you are prone to acne) with a mild chemical free and alcohol free face wash and use a non comedogenic moisturizer. This is to prevent dry skin since acne breakout easily on such skin types.
  • Doctors might prescribe oral antibiotics or topical antibiotic ointments to treat acne. These medicines cause lightening as well as drying of skin. Use SPF 15 sunscreen that is not oil based, all over your body, especially the back and face.
  • Do not use antibiotics if they are composed of minocycline. This makes the skin hyper sensitive. Discuss all possible side effects of any acne drug with your doctor.
  • There is no proof that a certain type of foods causes acne. But if you have oily skin, consume fresh fruits and salads to maintain the oil balance of your body. Drink plenty of water. Avoid dairy, as well as fried and oily foods.
  • Dry skin aggravates acne. While cleaning up, do not strip your skin of all moisture. Clean up just enough to get rid of excess oil and dirt.
  • Do not pick your acne. This will only lead to worsening of the infection.
  • Use facial packs made of fresh fruits or cucumber and wash off after 15 minutes to keep skin clean and healthy.

How to treat pigmentation

Hyperpigmentation resulting from acne does not go away by itself and is especially harder to treat on dark skin. Treat acne scars and blemishes with gentle moisturizers and creams that contain Vitamin A or its derivatives. Certain skin pealing treatments use mild components. Go for one such treatment that is safe.

Some topical medicines for treatment of acne on dark skin

Oral antibiotics are more effective than other forms of medicine in treating severe acne in dark skin. Erythromycin and benzoyl peroxide are some other proven remedies. You must moisturize regularly when using these products in order to avoid dry skin. Certain laser surgical treatments also cure acne effectively and reoccurrence can be controlled with effective cleansing toning and moisturizing. Consult a dermatologist and understand your skin type and what antibiotics are safe or what antibiotics cause least lightening of dark skin.

A healthy life style that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, daily exercise and lukewarm showers can help keep acne in dark skin in check. If however, acne continues to occur or is severe or painful, do not hesitate to consult a dermatologist.

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