other body hair. Often after a very close shave, the pointed hair may curl back into the skin and it may pierce the wall of the hair follicle, causing a reaction resulting in bumps called “pseudofolliculitis barbae.”
Variations in Skin Color
African American skin has larger melanosomes (cells that determine skin color ) and the melanosomes contain more of the pigment melanin than those found in white skin. Because of the protective effect of melanin, African-Americans are better protected against skin cancer and premature wrinkling from sun exposure.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is quite common in dark-skinned individuals, even after minor trauma. An area of the skin may darken after an injury such as a cut or a scrape, or after certain skin disorders such as acne. To avoid or reduce post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, avoid picking, harsh scrubbing, and abrasive treatments.
Vitiligo is a common African American skincare condition where pigment cells are destroyed and irregular white patches on the skin appear. Many dermatologists think that the cause of this common disorder is an autoimmune process, where the cells of the body attack the pigment-producing cells.
The extent of color loss differs with each person; some people lose pigment over their entire bodies. Some patients with vitiligo do not regain skin color, however, some cases of vitiligo do repigment. See your dermatologist as soon as possible, as the extent of the disease will determine the appropriate treatment.
Several skincare methods are used to treat vitiligo, but none have been perfected. Topical medications, including corticosteroids and new non-steroid anti-inflammatory preparations, are commonly used. In cases where vitiligo affects most of the body, it is sometimes best to destroy the remaining normal pigment. A dermatologist can determine what treatment is best based on the extent of the disease.
When the scar from a cut or wound extends and spreads beyond the size of the original wound, it is known as a keloid. Keloids may vary in size, shape, and location. They occur more often in brown or black skin making this a very common African American skincare issue.
Keloids are a common skincare issue on the ear lobes, neck, chest, or back, and usually occur after an injury or surgery. Occasionally they occur spontaneously, especially on the mid-chest area. Keloids often follow inflammation caused by acne on the face, chest, and back.
Keloids may be painful both physically and emotionally (from a cosmetic perspective), but it’s important to address keloids primarily as a medical, rather than cosmetic condition.
Depending on the location of the keloid, skincare treatment may consist of cortisone injections, pressure, silicone gels, surgery, laser treatment, or radiation therapy. Unfortunately, keloids tend to return and even enlarge, especially after treatment with surgery.
Exams and Tests
The most common skin tests include:
- Patch testing: Patch tests are used to help diagnose skin allergies. Identified allergens (substances that a person may be allergic to) are applied to the skin with adhesive patches and left for a period of time. The skin is then examined for any reaction.
- Skin biopsy: Skin biopsies are performed to diagnose skin cancer or benign skin disorders. During a skin biopsy, skin is removed (after a local anesthetic is applied) and is taken to a laboratory for analysis. Skin may be removed with a scalpel or a cylindrical punch. Stitches may be used to close the wound.
- Culture: A culture is a test that is done to identify the microorganism (bacteria, fungus, or virus) that is causing an infection. Skin, hair, or nails may be cultured to detect bacteria, fungi, or viruses.
A skin biopsy is a procedure in which a doctor cuts and removes a small sample of skin to have it tested. This sample may help your doctor diagnose diseases such as skin cancer, infection, or other skin disorders.
There are several types of skin biopsy, including:
- Shave biopsy: The doctor shaves a thin layer from the top of a lesion.
- Punch biopsy: The doctor uses an instrument called a punch to remove a circular section through all layers of the lesion.
- Excisional biopsy: The doctor uses a scalpel to take off the entire lesion. This method is used for smaller lesions.
- Incisional biopsy: The doctor uses a scalpel to remove a small sample of a large lesion.
There are many different drugs, creams, and therapies for skin problems. From over-the-counter lotions to prescription medicines, find out about the options.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Contact a doctor if you suffer from skin irritation or suspect that you may have a skin disease.
- Use sunscreen of SPF 15 every day; avoid sun tanning
- Drink eight glasses of water a day
- Get enough sleep
- Eat a nutritious diet
- Limit your caffeine consumption
- Maintain a skin care regimen
- Wear sunglasses with UVA/ABB protection
- Do not go to tanning salons
Your skin is the barometer of your health, and lifestyle choices literally make their mark on your face. No need to cover your face or
panic. Just follow the commonsense guidelines below for skin preservation, and you’ll be sure to radiate vitality and vigor.
Everyday skincare—keep it consistent
Create a consistent skin-care routine. Regular cleansing rids the skin of excess oils and dirt and sloughs off dead skin cells.
If you have dry skin, use a mild exfoliant with a heavier moisturizing cream that contains nut oils or aloe.
If your skin is oily, occasionally use an exfoliant with astringent properties and finish with a light, water-based moisturizer. Tea tree and citrus
oils help tone skin between washings.
If you battle with problem skin, avoid using harsh exfoliants on breakouts. Instead, apply a deep-cleansing mask and a moisturizer with antibacterial ingredients such as tea tree oil and lavender.
Let the sun shine, but choose your exposure carefully.
A face cream with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher should be a mandatory part of your beauty regimen. Look for a cream that matches your skin type and wear it even on cloudy days.
Your body does, however, need some sun exposure, as the UV rays from sunlight trigger vitamin D synthesis in the skin. A 20-minute walk or bask in the early morning or late afternoon sun should suffice; you might prefer to wear a hat and
let your arms and legs get the rays.
Let it glow
You are what you eat and drink and breathe, so consider this:
A healthy diet full of antioxidants A, C, and E helps fend off free radicals from everyday exposure to air pollutants, sun, and stress. Foods rich in vitamin A and vitamin C include brightly colored fruits and vegetables, such as squashes, sweet potatoes, carrots, leafy greens, tomatoes, strawberries, and kiwi. Vitamin E is found in a variety of nuts and their oils and wheat germ.
Exercise increases circulation, which helps nourish collagen fibers that give skin its appearance of plumpness, while perspiration from your workout cleanses the skin.
Water hydrates the skin from the inside out, so practice drinking enough water that you rarely get thirsty.
Avoid smoking and breathing secondhand smoke, which causes blood vessels to constrict, inhibiting blood flow and starving the skin of oxygen.