How Skin Of Color Ages

african american man in boxers looking into mirror(BlackDoctor.org) — Does skin of color age differently? This is an interesting question, since most people do believe that Black skin “doesn’t crack.” In general, the process of aging for skin of color is indeed slower, and typical signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles, tend to occur 15 to 20 years later than what is seen with other groups.

But this is not to say that Black skin doesn’t show its age – it just shows it a little differently.

So while my patients with darker skin may not complain as much about wrinkles and fine lines, they do discuss the following five issues that are associated with aging skin of color:

Flesh Moles

Also known as dermatosis papulosa nigra (DPN), these are flesh colored bumps that start in late 20’s and early 30’s. Most people of color will develop these on their face, neck, chest and back. Patients will continue to grow them as they have more and more birthdays. While these these fleshy bumps are easily removed, removal will not prevent the growth of more moles.

Discoloration/Uneven Skin Tone

This is a major issue for patients of color and can occur for many reasons. But first, understand that no one is uniformly pigmented. The forehead and chin are often darker than the cheeks, and the left side of the face may be darker than the right, due to unbalanced sun exposure.

It is imperative that people of color use sun protection daily, not only to help preserve a more balanced complexion, but to avoid other serious skin conditions, including skin cancer. While skin cancer is less likely (although it still happens – Bob Marley died of a melanoma), many patients of color have other medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, that require medications that make the skin more sun sensitive.

Dark Eye Circles

As we age, we lose fat (sadly only on the face) and portions of the face can become hollow, and many people, particularly those with allergies, may often have discoloration under the eyes. This can be treated with topical medications that lighten the area, as well as injectable fillers (hyaluronic acids) to replace some of the volume lost through the natural aging process.

Loss Of Volume

Regardless of skin color, everyone loses volume of the face as they age.  Children and young people have most of the volume in their face in the upper portion, like an inverted triangle.  As we age, the volume is decreased and the skin sags causing our faces to resemble a triangle. Many of the cosmetic treatments are now being aimed at volume replacement (again, treatments such as injectable fillers can aid with this).

Hair Loss

This is a huge issue which warrants its own article! Women’s hair can thin just like men’s hair. This hair loss can be due to many factors, including long term chemical use, hormonal fluctuations, anemia and/or medication use. For the best treatment solutions, hair loss should be evaluated by a dermatologist. A standard evaluation may include lab work and a scalp sample (biopsy).

By Brooke Jackson, M.D., BDO Dermatology Expert

About Dr. Brooke Jackson:  As a board certified Dermatologist and Dermatologic Surgeon, Brooke Jackson, M.D., is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology as well as the American College of Mohs Micrographic Surgery and Cutaneous Oncology and the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery.  She is also the founder of the Skin Wellness Center of Chicago (www.skinwellnesscenter.org), a a full service cosmetic dermatology practice.  Her specialties include ethnic skin care, laser therapy and skin cancer prevention. Dr. Jackson is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor at Northwestern University and lectures nationally on the use of lasers and cosmetic procedures in ethnic skin.

The 5 Essential Diet Rules

fruit on a scale(BlackDoctor.org) — Yes, many different diets can work for many different people. But the main problem with most of them is that they make unrealistic demands that most people just can’t sustain for a long period of time. And remember – losing and mantaining a healthy weight is about consistency, not flip-flopping from one diet to another.

So what should you do? Try incorporating the below 5 science-proven tips into your everyday eating habits:

1. Snack on almonds
When salty cravings strike, bypass the pretzels or popcorn. In a study of 65 men and women who were following a low-calorie diet, California researchers found that those who noshed on the nuts shrank their waistlines nearly 50% more than dieters who didn’t eat them, despite consuming the same number of calories. Likewise, Spanish researchers found that even without increasing exercise, a diet enriched with monounsaturated fatty acids (aka MUFAs, found in foods such as almonds and avocados) decreased the accumulation of abdominal fat, compared with a carbohydrate-heavy diet, which increased it.

2. Fill up on fiber
“When you slow digestion, you slow the delivery of glucose [blood sugar] to the bloodstream,” says Marie Savard, MD, author of The Body Shape Solution to Weight Loss and Wellness. “That means less insulin is released, and with lower insulin release comes lower visceral [belly] fat storage.” In a study of more than 2,900 adults, those who ate the most fiber weighed less and had lower insulin levels and slimmer waistlines than those who ate the least. Aim for at least 25 g a day from such foods as vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, brown rice, and whole grain bread, cereal, and pasta.

3. Stay satisfied with protein
Gram for gram, protein has the same number of calories as carbs (and half that of fat), but takes longer to digest, so you feel full longer. It also seems to help lower levels of the hormone ghrelin, which is known to stimulate appetite. In a Danish study of 60 men and women, those following a diet that included 25% of calories from protein lost nearly twice as much fat after 6 months than those eating a diet with 12% protein. Include a serving of lean protein with each meal and snack—eggs for breakfast, a turkey sandwich for lunch, low-fat or fat-free yogurt or milk for a snack, and grilled fish and vegetables for dinner.

4. Skip the sweetener
In a 5-week study by Purdue University researchers, rats given unlimited access to artificially sweetened yogurt consumed more calories, gained more weight, and packed on more fat than those that ate sugar-sweetened yogurt. Researchers believe artificial sweeteners may hinder your body’s ability to regulate calories based on taste, so you end up overeating. Go with a little bit of natural sweetener, such as raw sugar or honey, instead.

5. Dump one high-cal item from your diet
Exercise works best when you don’t offset your hard work with empty calories. By eliminating just one high-calorie item from your daily diet, such as a large latte, or substituting cereal and low-fat milk for a bagel and cream cheese, you can easily reduce your intake by 250 calories.