Eczema and Skin of Color

It is very seldom that you hear someone confess that they have eczema. When you ask them, it is either they deny or they hide it under their sleeves which is totally understandable. But, what they do not know is that they can actually do something about it on their own.

Yes, that is right. While there is no absolute cure for this skin condition yet, many dermatologists and skin health experts have come up with different products and methods to help manage eczema. These options may not totally get rid of the disease but it could help diminish the pain and other symptoms that keep these people from being confident in their own skin.

Atopic dermatitis or most commonly referred to as eczema is a type of skin condition typically described as itchy, inflamed, crusting, and dry skin. While this condition is more commonly seen in children, it can also affect adults as well. As a matter of fact, In the United States, roughly 31.6 million has eczema— that is about 10% of the country’s total population.

Concurrently, experts have found that eczema is more common in African American people than those in other racial backgrounds, conversely, diagnosis and treatments are less known for the former. Compared to other races of persons of color, African American children were recorded to have higher cases of eczema at 20.2%

What Causes Eczema?

While the cause of eczema is not yet specifically identified, it resembles allergies. Thus, experts generally look at multiple possible factors including the following:

  • Genetics- When either one of the parents or both of them have eczema, their children will most likely inherit the skin condition. Additionally, women are reported to have more cases of eczema than men.
  • Allergens- Specifically, allergic eczema can be triggered by dust mites, pollens, molds, and even pet fur. 
  • Extreme temperatures- High levels of heat or cold, as well as too much perspiration, can lead to eczema.
  • Stress- While this is not proven to directly cause eczema, stress is seen as a contributing factor that can trigger the skin condition.
  • Food- Foods like soy, eggs, fish, and wheat are the most common culprits of eczema.

Considering the abovementioned factors that lead to the occurrence of eczema, it should be understood that this skin condition is not contagious; it is, however, is hereditary and can be passed on from one generation to another. 

Eczema in Skin of Color

Studies have shown that eczema is the second most common skin condition among African American Race. Additionally, compared to other races, black people experience more extreme symptoms of dry skin, swollen, and irritated skin.

The appearance of eczema on black skin also appears to be quite different. Typically, it causes darker brown, gray, or purple-ish patches on the affected area. Fortunately, with proper treatment, these uneven circles will eventually lighten and go back to normal color.

How can eczema be treated for darker skin?

Currently, there is no direct cure for eczema. But like any other skin condition, this can be managed through treatments. While treatments for eczema are generally the same for all skin types, it will still depend on the severity of the condition and the occurring symptoms. 

Here are some of the treatment options that one can do even at home to help subside the aching symptoms of eczema for darker skin.

  1. Moisturize at least twice a day. There are different kinds of moisturizers available in the market. Moisturizers can be in the form of a spray, cream, oil, and ointments. Any of these is equally effective; it will only depend on the skin type and severity of the condition. 

Shea butter has been proven to be medically effective by many dermatologists, thus used as an ingredient in many moisturizing products. It can be used both topically and orally and it is one of the most recommended remedy for eczema due to its anti-inflammatory and healing properties. 

  • Apply or take anti-itch medication. One of the infuriating symptoms of eczema is severe itchiness of the affected area. So, to help ease this uncomfortable feeling, applying anti-itch products or taking oral medication is highly recommended.

  • Switch to milder soaps or African black soaps. African black soap is known to help relieve inflammation and skin irritations. Due to its skin-nourishing properties, African black soap is best in soothing dry skin, treating eczema, as well as psoriasis and blackheads.

  • Avoid wearing tight and rough clothing. Since eczema causes severe dryness, wearing tight clothing with scratchy texture will only worsen the skin condition. Thus, make sure to wear loose and smooth clothes to avoid the affected area from being rubbed into rough fabrics. 

  • Keep away from stress. Although stress does not directly lead to having eczema, it can be a contributing factor to the worsening of the condition. Lowering stress levels can help reduce flare-up symptoms so it best to acknowledge stress triggers to help manage the situation before it gets any worse.

  • Before applying or taking any medications, make sure to consult with a medical professional first. While the treatments and products are generally applicable to anyone with eczema, it is still important to get professional advice to avoid worsening the condition. 

    Remember, eczema is not something to be ashamed of. Rather, it is something that one must learn how to manage in order to apply the proper treatments.