Take a moment and think back to your teen years. What do you remember? Do you have fond memories of your first car? A warm memory of your first kiss? Perhaps all you recall is every Black teenager’s worst nightmare— a pimple the night of a big event.
Most Black women remember all of these highlights of adolescence. But, many African American women thought their battle with pimples, blackheads and whiteheads would end with the beginning of their adult years. Unfortunately, not all women were able to leave pimples behind. Acne has continued to haunt their adult years.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), acne refers to clogged pores (blackheads and whiteheads), pimples and cysts that appear on the face, neck, back and chest. Acne can disappear over time. But, you don’t have to wait. There are treatments available to prevent new pimples. Treatment is an important option because acne can cause severe scarring. Acne occurs when oil, bacteria and skin cells work their way to the surface of your skin in the form of unsightly pimples.
The AAD dispels three myths about acne on Black skin:
1. acne is not caused by dirt;
2.washing your face too often may make your condition worse. Cleaning your face twice each day with soap and warm water is sufficient; and,
3. the things we eat contribute to the formation of acne. Although some people find that certain foods make their acne worse, a strict diet alone will not clear up your complexion.
Cosmetics can exacerbate acne if you don’t choose the right products. The AAD recommends using oil-free products and products that are labeled non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic. You should also shield your facial skin, as much as possible, from your hair products.
Having Black Skin with Acne Does Not Have To Be Fatal
Whether you have a mild or severe case of acne, the psychological and social effects can be devastating. You may feel less than confident because of the presence of pimples or concern about how others see you. According to Acnenet, a link on the AAD web site, people with acne can suffer from any of the following: social withdrawal, lowered self-esteem and self-confidence, embarrassment, feelings of depression, anger and a higher rate of unemployment.
If you still feel like you’re a casualty of the pimple wars, the following information and a consultation with your doctor should help build your defenses. Acne treatments typically work toward preventing new pimples. Therefore, you will usually not see a difference for six to eight weeks. Your doctor may recommend changing your treatment if the first attempt is unsuccessful.
When you visit your physician, give her information about the skin products that you use or any medicine you’re taking. This will help her determine whether your acne is related to the products you’re using. And, you should be prepared to let your physician know bout any changes in your menstrual cycle, which can affect acne.
Ten Ways to Handle Acne on Black Skin
1- What you can do – Avoid overly vigorous face washing and scrubbing. Avoid acne-friendly make-up and moisturizers. And if you typically put your hands on your face, change your habits. This contact may make your acne worse.
2 – Non-prescription acne lotions and creams – These products may be effective for milder cases of acne. They may cause dry skin if used too frequently, so follow the label instructions.
3 – Topical prescription lotions and creams – These include vitamin A and benzoyl peroxide, which unclogs pores and decreases bacteria. These products may also cause dry skin.
4 – Antibiotics – Your doctor may apply antibiotics to the skin via injection.
5 – Opening pimples – Only your physician should open black- or whiteheads. If you do it yourself you risk more swelling or scarring.
6 – Oral antibiotics – For moderate or severe cases of acne, a physician may prescribe an oral antibiotic to tackle bacteria.
7 – Birth control pills- Women who begin taking birth control pills may see that they have fewer pimples. Some women are prescribed birth control pills specifically to control their acne.
8 – Other medications – A physician may prescribe female hormones or medications that reduce the effect of male hormones for severe acne. Because male hormones stimulate acne (found in men and women), this can be an effective treatment for severe acne.
9 – Post-treatment – After you see results, remember you may be able to decrease, but not cease treatment. Your acne could return if you stop working to prevent new outbreaks. Acne cannot be cured, but it can be controlled.
10 – See your doctor for more information and follow-up with his or her instructions.
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