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Eczema On African American Skin

So What Causes Eczema

Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) in Skin of Color: Black Skin, Brown Skin, Dark Skin

Basically, the cause of eczema is somewhat unknown. Some people are born with genetic tendency to develop eczema. However, it is not completely understood why some people develop a more severe form than others or when it develops, says Dr. Robinson.

Dr. Scott agrees that the cause is a combination of genetics and environment. Of course in certain seasons, if the temperatures drop where you live, dry skin will be more prevalent.

Prevalence Of Eczema On Black Skin

While eczema can affect anyone, research suggests that certain ethnic groups are at a greater risk.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which assesses the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States, found that 19.3 percent of African-American children have this skin condition , compared to 16.1 percent of white children and 7.8 percent of Asian children. Another study found that African-American children are 1.7 times more likely to develop atopic dermatitis than caucasians.

Now, atopic dermatitis usually begins during infancy and early childhood , but adults can also develop this skin condition. Adult-onset disease appears to be more common in Asia than in Western countries.

Erythema a common skin finding related to eczema, presents as redness in the involved skin area in patients with lighter skin tones. It is more difficult to perceive in the background of melanin-rich skin. Instead of shades of red and pink, dermatologists may see lesions that look purplish, grayish, reddish-brown, or very brown color and may be confused with other conditions. Another hallmark of atopic dermatitis in black skin is the tendency to develop pigmentary alterations from hyper- or hypopigmentation.

How To Find A Doctor Who Can Treat Eczema In Dark Skin

The first step in deciding whether or not to seek a second opinion is to determine if you feel satisfied with the medical advice you have received. If your doctor has provided you with a diagnosis and some treatment options, and you are satisfied with the way they have handled your case, then it may not be necessary for you to seek a second opinion. However, if you feel unsatisfied with the diagnosis or treatment options that your doctor has provided, then it may be wise to seek out another medical professional who can provide more information on your condition.

It is imperative for doctors to be able to recognize the symptoms of eczema in darker skin tones. Due to differences in pigmentation among people with different skin types, black people may have a delay in diagnosis and appropriate treatment if their doctor has trouble recognizing these changes.

If you are concerned that you may not have a doctor who is properly trained to diagnose eczema in your skin type, it is always worth calling the clinic before your appointment to confirm you are making the right booking for your needs.

Dont be afraid to ask your doctor for more information if you do not understand something. Its important to have an open dialogue with your doctor about your concerns and ask them questions about what they think might be causing your eczema. They will be able to recommend treatments or medications that may help you.

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How Do You Treat Eczema On Dark Skin

Treating dry patches of skin often involves using topical corticosteroids to improve affected areas. Other topical medications for eczema include calcineurin inhibitors, which help prevent the skin changes that can occur from long-term treatment with topical steroids.

If eczema symptoms dont improve after trying topical medications, a healthcare professional may recommend treating eczema with ultraviolet light and systemic medications, including dupilumab, JAK inhibitors, and other immunosuppressive medications.

Its just as important to follow a preventive skin care regimen, as well. This means regularly applying a thick moisturizer to the skin, taking lukewarm showers, and using gentle products with little to no fragrances.

Research has shown that eczema tends to be worse among Black people than white people.

In addition to dealing with itchy, flaky skin, Black people with eczema may also experience changes in their skin color due to inflammation from the disease. While some of these changes may be temporary, they can be quite distressing to patients.

Its important for healthcare professionals to learn to recognize changes in eczema symptoms in darker skin types. Black people may experience a delay in diagnosis and appropriate treatment if their doctors have trouble recognizing eczema changes in their skin.

almost twice as likely to develop atopic dermatitis.

Best Hand Creams For Eczema

eczema: Eczema On Face Black People

If you experience eczema, then youll want to look for a cream thats sensitive enough for your skin but still gives you top-notch moisturizing qualities.

Cetaphil Pro Eczema Soothing Moisturizer

This is a great lotion for many patients, particularly those with normal to dry skin, says Campbell.

Vaseline Advance Repair Fragrance-Free Hand and Body Lotion

This lotion repairs dry skin with microdroplets of Vaseline Jelly that lock in moisture. It was awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance, which helps individuals recognize products that are suitable for care of eczema or sensitive skin.

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Why Do People Get Eczema

Your skin serves as an important protective barrier between your environment and the rest of your body. People with eczema have changes associated with this skin barrier.

An important function of the skin is to retain moisture. Individuals with eczema tend to have a leakier skin barrier, which allows water to escape more easily. This leads to drier skin thats easily affected by things like climate and irritants.

An overreaction of the immune system also plays a role in eczema. Because of this, coming into contact with common irritants in your environment can easily activate the immune system, leading to a flare-up.

Other Skin Conditions That Cause Pigmentary Changes

Eczema is not the only condition that causes pigmentary changes: they can also be caused by various other skin conditions that someone may have alongside their eczema. Two other common pigmentary skin conditions are melasma and vitiligo, but there are many rarer conditions too. So, any form of pigmentary skin problems that cannot be explained by eczema should be assessed and investigated.

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Why Are Certain Ethnic Groups At Greater Risk For Eczema

Genetic and environmental factors influence ones risk of developing atopic dermatitis. Typically, those with a family history of atopic dermatitis or other atopic diseases are more likely to have the condition.

This is because certain genetic mutations that affect the skin barrier cells and skin immune cells are passed from generation to generation. These mutations also tend to occur more often in some ethnic groups compared to others, which may help explain differences in the frequency and severity of eczema between people who identify as white, Black, Asian, Hispanic and others.

In addition, people who live in an urban setting or are exposed to certain environmental allergens are at greater risk of developing atopic dermatitis.

How Does Eczema Affect Black Americans

How is atopic dermatitis diagnosed?

According to the National Eczema Association, 20.2% of African American children in the U.S. are reported to have atopic dermatitis, a common form of eczema, compared with 13% of Asian children, 13% of Native American children, 12.1% of white children, and 10.7% of Hispanic children. The exact reason eczema affects more African American children is unknown, but experts believe it to be a combination of genetics and the environment.

Mutations, or changes, in certain genes can affect your skins protective barrier. When the barrier is disrupted, your skin is more susceptible to irritants and allergens in the environment. Your body then mounts an immune response, which can cause eczema symptoms to flare.

In a 2018 study, researchers analyzed the skin at a molecular level, focusing on African Americans and white Americans with eczema. They discovered that different gene mutations and immune system proteins were involved in the development of eczema between the two groups. They also found that African Americans developed more inflammation than people of European descent. These differences may explain why it is more challenging to treat eczema in the Black population and why higher doses of medication may be needed to manage symptoms.

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Eczema On Face African American


  • Fitzpatrick TB. The validity and practicality of sun-reactive skin types I through VI. Arch Dermatol. 1988 Jun 124:869-71.
  • Ben-Gashir B, Hay R. Reliance on erythema scores may mask severe atopic dermatitis in black children compared with their white counterparts. British Journal of Dermatology 2002 147:920-925.
  • Further information:

    Skin Deep is a website that contains images of people with different skin tones to help patients and doctors better understand and describe symptoms of different skin conditions: .

    The PDF document below shows what eczema can look like on different skin tones.

    How Is Eczema Different In Skin Of Color

    Eczema can look quite different on darker skin tones. Eczema is commonly thought of as a red, dry, and itchy rash how it appears on lighter skin tones. But redness can be a challenge to detect on darker skin tones which may make diagnosis more difficult.

    On darker skin, patches may appear darker than the rest of the skin, looking purple, ashen grey, or dark brown.

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    Dermicoll Pure Marine Collagen Best Eczema Cream Over The Counter

    Dermicoll ointment is the only eczema cream on the market that contains the highest quality, bioactive salmon collagen that is easily absorbed into your skin. It also contains Jojoba oil and Eucerin that help hydrate your skin, restoring its naturally elasticity and healing skin texture.

    One of the biggest worries about Eczema is the unsightly proliferation of skin scales and skin dandruff. Dermicoll claims that they are the fastest cream on the market to eliminate unwanted scales better and faster than any other eczema cream on the market.


    • It can heal all three types of eczema in a matter of days.
    • It soothes the itchiest skin and by soothing the itching, putting a stop to the vicious cycle of itchy and starching. Itching leads to starching and starching leads to spreading the eczema, so more itchy dry skin.
    • Even though it is called an ointment, it isnt a thick greasy ointment. It is easy to apply and is quickly absorbed by your skin without leaving a tacky feeling on your skin.


    • It is one of the most experience eczema creams on the market, but only a small bit is needed to cure and heal your skin.
    • It can cause a serious allergic reaction in those who have an allergy to sea fish such as salmon.
    • It is not found at most pharmacies but can easily be ordered online or purchased from your dermatologist.

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    What Other Products Should I Keep Handy To Treat My Eczema

    How Eczema is Different on Black Skin

    According to the MD, less is more. Especially when it comes to factors like fragrance.

    “I utilize a combination approach in treating eczema which consists of medicated topical emollients, thick moisturizers, free and clear detergents, and gentle cleansers, such as Dove Irritation Care Body Wash,” she shares. “It’s a fragrance-free body wash that cleanses and nourishes the skin with a thick, extra moisturizing lather that your skin will absolutely love.”

    However, for more severe cases, an oral or injectable medication may be needed.

    Also, while Dr. Okereke shares that it’s rare for food to trigger eczema, if you suspect your diet may be the cause, be sure to reach out to an allergist as soon as possible.

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    What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Atopic Dermatitis

    Atopic dermatitis is often called the itch that rashes because it begins with itchy skin. Scratching the itchy skin causes a rash to appear.

    This rash also tends to be very itchy.

    AD causes itchy skin

    No matter your age or where the AD appears on your skin, AD tends to itch.

    AD can develop on any area of your skin at any age. However, at certain ages, its more likely to appear on certain areas of your body and have a unique appearance.

    Heres whats most common during each stage of life.

    Palmers Cocoa Butter Formula Moisture Rich Night Cream

    Its therapeutic and works wonders for your face at nights.

    It breathes life into facial skin, and its retinol content keeps wrinkles and fine lines at bay.

    This cream steps up to the plate, doing all the dirty work for you and repair damage done to your skin during the day, while you sleep.

    Its also non-comedogenic it wont clog your pores or leave room for pimples and blackheads to thrive.

    If youre looking for a moisturizing cream to use on your delicate skin at nights, one that leaves behind a beautiful glow in the mornings when you get up, Palmers rich night cream is your go-to option.

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    What Does Eczema Look Like In Darker Skin

    Most people think of eczema as a red, dry, and itchy rash how it appears in light skin. However, in dark skin, including brown skin, dark brown skin, Black skin, and other darker skin tones this redness may be difficult to see. Eczema flare-ups tends to look darker brown, purple or ashen grey in color. In the absence of characteristic redness, skin swelling, warmth, dryness/scaling or itching and oozing may help patients and physicians confirm the diagnosis. Lichenification is also one of the eczema symptoms that may appear differently in darker skin tones. The itching due to eczema has been shown to have a greater impact in Black patients, who are also more likely to have severe disease.

    Beyond differences in severity, skin color and symptoms of eczema, unique forms of atopic dermatitis may be seen in darker skin tones. Black Americans more commonly develop small bumps on the torso, arms and legs . Sometimes, bumps develop around hair follicles and resemble goosebumps .

    Black Americans also tend to have more extensive skin dryness and dark circles around their eyes. People who repeatedly rub and scratch the eczema-prone areas may develop skin thickening and firm, raised bumps on the skin called prurigo nodules.

    Identifying Eczema On Dark Skin

    Dermatology 101 Recognizing eczema

    Eczema appears differently on darker skin than it does on lighter skin tones. On lighter skin, eczema usually appears red and dry. However, on darker skin tones, eczema can appear:

    Since eczema on darker skin does not appear red, healthcare providers can look for other characteristics to make a diagnosis. Other signs of eczema include:

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    Why Do African American Kids Have Higher Rates Of Eczema

    Although African American adults are slightly less likely to have eczema compared to people of other races, 20% of Black children have eczema, which is almost double the rate found in white, Asian, Native American, and Hispanic children.

    Experts are still determining the exact factors that contribute to these numbers, and theyre learning more all the time. Recent studies have shown exposure to irritants, both indoor and outdoor, can lead to higher cases of eczema. African Americans tend to live in heavily urban settings with irritants and allergens such as pollution, humidity, ultraviolet radiation, harsh water, dust, mold, and more. These triggers can leave one with a compromised immune system and make people susceptible to eczemaand often, more severe cases of it.

    Additionally, new research analyzing genetic factors of eczema is finding certain mutations affecting the skin barrier cells and skin immune cells can be passed down through families, and these mutations are more common in some ethnic groups, like people of African descent, compared to others.

    What Foods Can I Eat Or Avoid To Reduce My Risk Of Dermatitis

    If you have food allergies, then one of the reasons why you must avoid that food is that it may cause or worsen dermatitis. Up to 25% of people with dermatitis herpetiformis have celiac disease, a sensitivity to gluten. Examples of common allergies include peanuts, dairy, eggs, sugar and alcohol. Pay attention to what you eat. If your dermatitis flares up after you eat a certain food, then you might have an allergy.

    Discuss diet changes with your healthcare provider. It may also be helpful to see a dietician. Dieticians can help you create new meal plans.

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    Medical Insurance Adds Another Complication

    Black people also face disparities in eczema treatment due to challenges with health insurance coverage. Eczema can manifest differently in African Americans, and common eczema symptoms like hyperpigmentation, scarring, extremely dry skin, and thickened skin are also experienced by Black people without the condition. Therefore, insurance companies can sometimes deny coverage for eczema doctors or medication because they consider those problems to be cosmetic rather than medical. This causes increased out-of-pocket costs for African Americans with eczema, making it hard for those who struggle financially to afford necessary medication.

    While there can seem to be a heaping mound of obstacles when it comes to unfair practices for African Americans concerning eczema, I see a light at the end of the tunnel. Vibrant eczema advocates have been very proactive in incorporating equality movements. #POCSKINMATTERS started by Briana Banos is holding skincare companies accountable to establish educational awareness, research accountability, and equal representation. Ive personally been behind the scenes on calls discussing ways to gain funding and health equality for African Americans and people of color.

    Im dedicated to working with my community to provide equality for all, and I wont stop until weve received it.

    What To Do About Eczema As A Black Man

    Tinea (Capitis, Corporis, Cruris)

    Eczema on black skin can be hurtful.

    These conditions on a colored-skin look somehow different and need special treatment.

    The dry, itchy, and inflamed skin may even cause you insomnia.

    While eczema on black skin may look different from white skin, there are useful common solutions to prevent and treat it.

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