This article is a part of our annual Guide to Good Health. Sponsored Content brought to you by Tru-Skin Dermatology.
Nicole Petro is a board-certified physician assistant specializing in medical and surgical dermatology as well as performs cosmetic procedures such as Botox injections, filler injections, micro needling, IPL and PRP injections for hair rejuvenation. She received her undergraduate degree in biological sciences from the University of California, Irvine, and her Master of Science in physician assistant studies from Western University of Health Sciences. Petrois a member of prestigious organizations including the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants and Texas Academy of Physician Assistants.
Common Skin Conditions for People of Color
People of color tend to have more melanin, and the more melanin the body produces, the darker the eyes, hair and skin will be. It is a common misconception that if you have darker skin, you don’t need to wear sunscreen. Though skin with more melanin is less prone to sunburns in comparison to that with less, there are other skin changes that can occur within this skin type when it is not protected.
What is Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra?
Without the use of sunscreen, Asian, Hispanic and Black skin can develop tiny brown or black raised spots on sun-exposed areas called dermatosis papulosa nigra (DPN). These tiny spots are harmless, however, over time can increase and are often a cosmetic concern, especially when they are on the face. DPNs also have a genetic component with close family members having very similar spots. DPNs can be prevented through sun avoidance and sunscreen.
What are Solar Lentigines?
Another common concern is sunspots, also known as solar lentigines (SL). These brown spots tend to also be on sun-exposed areas including the face, torso, arms and legs. In comparison to DPNs, these brown spots are flat and not raised. Solar lentigines usually are small, however, can grow to be quite large and can become a cosmetic concern when they occur on the face. Solar lentigines tend to get darker in the summer due to prolonged sun exposure and lack of sun protection.
What is Melasma?
Melasma is much larger flat brown patches that commonly occur on the cheeks, forehead and sometimes the upper lip. This type of brown discoloration is often associated with pregnancy and is referred to as “the mask of pregnancy.” Both women with darker and lighter skin types can also develop melasma if they use estrogen-containing contraception such as oral contraceptives, IUDs, Nuva Ring or Depo-Provera. The use of sunscreen is important to prevent melasma as this condition is very difficult to treat. If these brown patches are noticed, it is recommended to seek timely treatment, which could give the best chance of improvement.
How can I prevent an uneven skin tone?
DPNs, SLs and melasma can all be prevented by sun avoidance as well as sun protection. The American Academy of Dermatology(AAD)recommends broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects against UVA and UVB rays. UVA “aging rays” can cause photoaging(aka wrinkles),and UVB “burning rays” can cause sunburns that can lead to skin cancers. The AAD also recommends that sunscreen should be SPF 30 or higher, the amount of sunscreen applied to the skin should fill a shot glass (1 ounce) and the application should occur 15 minutes before sun exposure, then reapplied everyone to two hours.
What type of sunscreen should I use?
I advise all my patients to use sunscreen containing zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as this type of sunscreen sits on the surface of the skin and blocks the sun. A common complaint with physical sunscreen, especially for people of color, is that it leaves a “white residue” on their
There are cosmetically elegant physical sunscreens, like those from Elta MD, which do not leave a noticeable white residue and in fact blend in seamlessly with darker skin. The simple use of sunscreen not only protects your skin from developing skin cancers but also can prevent these cosmetically concerning pigmentation disorders. If you have any concerns with new moles or growths, interests in learning more about the best sunscreens and/or need help with any of the medical conditions listed above, please contact Tru-Skin Dermatology for an appointment.