Dermatology for Richly Pigmented Skin
Projections estimate that by 2050, the number of individuals with ethnic skin in the U.S. will constitute more than half of the total population. Dr. Goodman understands that more richly pigmented individuals often face unique skin care challenges. A common reason for visiting a dermatologist for patients with ethnic and darker skin types, as for patients of any skin type, is the goal of aesthetic improvement. Among persons with darker skin tones and ethnic backgrounds, however, the aging process, the signs of aging, and response to many common dermatological treatments differs. For instance, a technique such as laser therapy or chemical peel on lighter complexioned patients typically yields excellent results, whereas the same procedure performed on a patient with more richly pigmented skin could cause scarring, light spots, or dark spots.
At Goodman Dermatology, serving patients in Johns Creek, Sandy Springs, North Fulton, Cumming, Forsyth, Marietta, Dunwoody, Atlanta, Milton, Alpharetta, Woodstock, Canton, Norcross, and Roswell, we provide top quality dermatologic care for patients of all ethnicities and skin types, and strive to address each patient’s distinctive needs and concerns.
Common Conditions Affecting Richly Pigmented Skin
Cells called melanocytes, which produce melanin, determine the overall tone of our skin. Basically, the more melanin produced – the more deeply pigmented the skin. There are benefits to increased melanin, including a slower progression of the signs of aging and a degree of added sun protection. Yet many conditions disproportionately affect more highly pigmented skin, which play a significant role in determining a course of treatment. These may include:
Pigmentation Problems. One of the key aging concerns for women across the kaleidoscope of ethnic backgrounds is pigmentation that leads to uneven skin tone. Patchy pigmentation in the skin doesn’t reflect light evenly, and one of the biggest indicators of youthful skin is the ability to reflect light. Triggers include: trauma to the skin; acne; sun damage; and hormones. Common discoloration conditions include dark spots (hyper-pigmentation), light spots (hypo-pigmentation), and vitiligo, a loss of pigmentation.
Scarring. Scarring from injuries, surgery or skin rejuvenation procedures which cause peeling or micro-injuries to skin need to be considered when treating more darkly toned skin due to increased risk of developing keloids or hypertrophic scars. These are tough enlarged and raised scars that are irregularly shaped and tend to progressively enlarge. Unlike scars, keloids do not subside over time.
Acne and Blemish Scarring. Scarring from acne or blemishes appears to be more common in pigmented skin. Residual signs of a blemish, from a darkened spot to a raised area may be evident several weeks or months after the blemish has occurred. Severe scarring may result from acute acne cases that penetrate deep into the skin.
Skin Cancer. Melanoma is not a problem only for those with extremely light skin. Although a more intense distribution of melanin provides inherent protection against sun damage, it tends to lead to photo damage that occurs 10 to 20 years later than in lighter skinned persons. Skin damage looks different in patients with darker skin tones, hence, late detection of skin cancers potentially occurs more frequently than in lighter skinned patients. Annual skin exams are recommended to detect potential cancers early, as well as use of sunscreen for every skin color.
Razor Bumps. A razor bump forms when a hair that has been cut off close to the surface turns around and begins growing back into the skin, causing inflammation and irritation. This condition can occur on the face, underarms, legs, bikini area, and anywhere else that hairs are shaved. Curlier hair is more predisposed to cause razor bumps because it naturally turns back towards the skin during growth. The body responds by producing collagen to repair the damaged skin, often leading to keloid scarring. Laser hair removal may be a viable option to correct this condition.
Dermatology Experience Matters
The field of dermatology has evolved dramatically in recent years, particularly in ability to treat skin of color. As darker skin tends to age differently than lighter skin, cosmetic treatments for richly pigmented patients emphasize pigmentation correction and reduction of scarring as compared to emphasis on wrinkle reduction and rejuvenation of facial contours among lighter skinned patients. Dr. Goodman communicates with all of his patients to find safe, effective ways to achieve and maintain clear, healthy, beautiful skin. Understanding that ethnicity and skin color play a huge role in determining a course of treatment makes him better equipped to address the specific concerns associated with richly pigmented skin. Goodman Dermatology offers a range of cosmetic dermatology services designed to optimize the potential for darker complexioned patients to enjoy brighter, clearer and healthier skin.
Our office is equipped with a 755-nm Alexandrite laser and the 1064-nm Nd:YAG laser which are state-of-the-art laser technology. Newer technology allows us to treat darker skinned individuals for some procedures that previously were only safe for those with light complexions. However, keeping the propensity for scarring and discoloration in mind, gentler and more numerous treatments may be required to deliver the same results. Dr. Goodman stresses the importance of darker skinned patients to schedule regular skin checks to detect any skin abnormalities, particularly skin cancer, in its early stages. We are one of the few practices in Georgia that employ a dermascopy technique that provides a valuable aid in diagnosing pigmented skin lesions.
If your goal is a brighter, clearer complexion for a face of any color, as well as the peace of mind associated with healthy skin, Dr. Goodman would be happy to discuss the exciting and versatile treatment options he offers. Schedule an appointment at Goodman Dermatology, serving patients in north Fulton County and surrounding Atlanta communities.