Eczema in Black Skin: What’s the Difference?

Eczema in Black Skin: What’s the Difference?

Eczema can be found in all skin types, but do they all have the equivalent uphill battle to manage their symptoms? Is the score even across the board? It has been found that eczema found in skin of color has a different severity of symptoms that all ethnicities may not have to face. 

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What is Eczema? 

Eczema is a skin condition where the skin becomes inflamed, itchy, red, cracked, and very rough. This term is usually used to generally describe common skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, and nummular eczema. Although there are several types of eczema, the most common type is atopic dermatitis. Along with the previously listed effects, the skin of those who suffer from eczema may start to blister if not treated properly. Some things that can cause such reactions is the consumption of certain foods like tomatoes, nuts and dairy. The specific effects of eating such foods vary depending on the age of the candidate. Although this may be the case, most reactions result in red and itchy bumps that are very hard to resist scratching. Along with the consumption of certain foods, various environmental aspects, such as smoke and pollen, can cause the irritation of eczema. Despite the redness and itchy qualities eczema has, it is not contagious. 

Eczema in Black Skin

What are the symptoms of eczema? 

Symptoms of eczema vary. It has been proven that black people are much more prone to have mild to severe eczema in comparison to people of other ethnicities. One major difference in this is that eczema-prone black skin tends to be severely dry. This dryness leads to dark circles around the eyes that may not be as expected or common in other ethnicities. Along with this, eczema can result in black skin looking very dark and dried out. These abnormal skin tones range from dark brown patches to gray patches. The areas of the skin affected by these abnormal skin tones can appear to be or maybe swollen, warm, itchy, dry and even scaly. 

Along with these general types of symptoms in relation to eczema found in black skin, age also plays a major factor in the types of symptoms. There are three main groups in which these symptoms can be categorized; Symptoms in infants under two years old, symptoms in children two years old until puberty, and adults. 

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For infants under two years old, symptoms are that of rashes which can be found on the scalp or cheeks, rashes that bubble up before fluid bursts out, or rashes that cause severe itchiness. Because these symptoms are so drastic for an infant, it may affect sleep. While your infant is awake with these symptoms, the likeliness of them scratching is high. For children who are two years old growing up into their pubic stages, rashes can be found behind creases of elbows and knees, as well as the neck, wrists, and creases between the buttocks and legs. As your child gets older, these rashes can increase in severity become more bumpy, lightening or darkening in color, as well as thickening. This thickening is also known as lichenification. When this occurs, the rashes can then develop knots which can create a permanent and unbearable itch.  

For symptoms in adults, rashes can be found in creases of elbows, knees and or the nape of the neck. Along with this, rashes are most commonly found all over the body showing most prominence on the neck, face and around the eyes, these types of rashes can create very dry skin and permanent itchy skin. Rashes in adults have also been found to be more scaly  which can lead to skin infections. 

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How do you treat eczema? 

There are several ways to treat eczema. Treatment of eczema is determined based on the severity of eczema as well as the symptoms and severity of it. One thing that must be done constantly for those who have eczema is cleansing and moisturizing! Keeping the skin clean and free of any excess germs and possible bacteria is key in being responsible in taking care of your skin if you have eczema. After taking showers and or soaking in a bath, it is key that you moisturize thoroughly afterward. When taking showers/baths, it is also important not to use hot water. Using hot water drastically changes the temperature your skin is exposed to which can cause irritation in the skin as well as severe eczema flare-ups. After showering/bathing and moisturizing effectively, it is key to stay moisturized. Making sure that your skin has a certain level of moisture is a way to best prevent any further irritation as well as being a good way to manage this problem. 

Eczema in Black Skin

There are so many different things that can be applied to the skin, but ultimately, you have to use what’s best for you and your skin. One treatment that is recommended is tar products. Using products that contain tar products is a good way to help diminish the intensity of eczema after application as well as ease the symptoms of eczema. In addition to tar products, one can also use any doctor prescribed steroid creams to help manage their eczema.

How are discolored patches treated? 

One common saddening result of eczema is the patches and scars that it can leave as a result of scratching. Treating these effects depends on the underlying cause of eczema and each case is different, especially when it pertains to eczema on dark skin. There are several medical options to fix these scars, one being laser therapy. Laser therapy is an intense pulsed light device that has lasers that are commonly used to help light skin areas that have darkened. Another medical option to lighten discolored patches is topical creams. Vitamin A cream is a common prescription and or over the counter cream that effectively helps with the maintenance of eczema. The last common medical option to lighten dark or discolored spots is chemical peels. Chemical peels contain salicylic acid and glycolic acid which, when combined, can remove the outer, discolored layer of skin. 

Eczema in Black Skin

Along with these commonly used medical treatments, there are also treatments that you can use at home! Such essential creams and oils to lighten discolored and or darkened skin are Vitamin A or Vitamin E creams, Lemon juice, castor oil, and drinking tea! Vitamin A and E, when used, can help reduce appearances of skin discoloration along with improving the overall health of your skin. Lemon juice and castor oil, when applied twice a day, can lighten skin areas that have become dark or discolored. Drinking teas that are made from burdock, red clover, or milk thistle have shown impressive results in the lightening of the skin. 

 

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Conclusion 

Eczema. Some have it easier than others. Having eczema may seem like a hardship, but there is always a way to overcome these commonly overlooked hardships with eczema on dark skin.

References:

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325066.php#overview
  2. https://nationaleczema.org/eczema-in-skin-of-color/
  3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/14417.php
  4. https://www.eucrisa.com/treating-eczema?source=google&HBX_PK=s_+how+to++treat++eczema&o=143543415%7C315487032%7C0&skwid=43700041083039166&cmp=3af22131-0c1f-42f7-858b-e39d31e6653e
  5. http://skinofcolorsociety.org/dermatology-education/eczema/
  6. https://www.healthline.com/health/discolored-skin-patches#causes
  7. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/eczema/types-of-eczema
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  9. https://www.google.com/search?q=eczema+on+black+skin&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwje3dPGj4znAhVxuVkKHVKIC0sQ_AUoAXoECBEQAw&biw=947&bih=798#imgrc=OSwa7X4OYJ48UM:
  10. https://www.google.com/search?q=moisturizers&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiOmc2DkIznAhUihuAKHeNTClEQ_AUoAXoECA4QAw&biw=947&bih=798#imgrc=68JPQWSutOp1xM:
  11. https://www.google.com/search?q=discolored+patches+on+black+skin&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjgqJC2kIznAhXLmOAKHREnDV0Q_AUoAXoECA0QAw&biw=947&bih=798#imgrc=JJz5UR-4XkKdNM:
  12. https://www.google.com/search?q=discolored+patches+on+black+skin&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjgqJC2kIznAhXLmOAKHREnDV0Q_AUoAXoECA0QAw&biw=947&bih=798#imgrc=O4WDynsnL47t5M:
Jeslyn Savage

Jeslyn Savage

Jeslyn is a contributor and content developer for Our Eczema Story. She is not a medical professional. Her articles, comments, and suggestions are not intended to replace any medical advice. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog or in any linked materials.