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Managing skin conditions in different skin tones

Woman checking her skin in the mirror
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Skin comes in many different tones, and textures and sometimes these differences can make it harder to spot when something goes wrong with our skin. If we don’t address our skin issues, they may lead to further problems, so it is always worthwhile taking a moment to consider skin and ensure that we are always doing our very best to care for it, whatever shade it might come in!

Eczema and inflammation

Sometimes skin conditions in darker skin are more difficult to see, and therefore may not appear to be serious or may take longer to be diagnosed and treated. For example, skin conditions which involve inflammation often lead to changes in the skin that can look red on light skin, but purple, brown or grey on darker skin. Inflammation may be more difficult to see on darker skin tones too, and present in different areas – for example eczema in children with darker skin can appear on the outside of joints such as elbows and knees, whereas in children with lighter skin, eczema is often seen on the inside of joints. Eczema is actually more common in darker skin than lighter skin, and should be diagnosed by a doctor if suspected, so it can be treated correctly.


Other conditions which can lead to skin inflammation include acne, seborrheoic dermatitis, and psoriasis, amongst others. If inflammation is not managed and treated, there may be subsequent issues with hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation – that is, dark patches or light patches on the skin. These can be more permanent and more visible than the original condition, be very hard to manage, and be really distressing too – so it’s really important for skin of colour to check for signs of inflammation on the skin and ensure it is properly treated. If you think you may have one of these conditions, or you notice specific colour changes in your skin, always speak with your pharmacist for further advice.

Dry and itchy skin

In the meantime, there are more everyday issues with our skin which we can manage really well with products that can be purchased in pharmacy. Dry skin is a really common condition in all skin tones, and can lead to rough, even itchy and sore skin. When the moisture levels in skin fall below the normal levels, the natural turnover of skin cells on the surface of the skin also slows down. These dead cells which are stuck to our skin make it feel rough, sometimes itchy, and can make it look flat and dull too. In darker skin tones especially, these dead skin cells can lead to the skin looking grey and dry. It can be very tempting to scrub away these dead skin cells using exfoliating products, but these may lead to further irritation and dryness, and are usually best avoided.

Skincare for different skin tones

A really important layer of skin is the skin barrier which helps hold moisture in the skin and this barrier is sometimes compared to a brick wall, with the skin cells as ‘bricks’ and a mixture of ceramides and lipids as the ‘cement’ that helps hold the bricks together and form a strong barrier. Darker skin tones may actually have less ceramide in their skin, meaning the skin barrier may be less able to prevent moisture loss, and therefore these skin tones may be more at risk of dry skin. So let’s look at our routines, and how best to manage dry skin, whatever the skin tone. In the shower or bath, use a body wash specially developed to take care of dry sensitive skins, which can cleanse the skin without drying. And don’t have the water too hot, as this can lead to dry skin too. Good skin care starts with cleansing gently, so take care with this important step.

If your skin is very dry and itchy, try the Aveeno Dermexa range which contains ceramides to help rebuild the skin barrier and avenanthramides, which can help soothe irritation.