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Treating Ethnic Skin Conditions

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downloadJust because a product says it’s a facial cleanser or moisturizer, doesn’t mean it’s the right product for you. Many people think that the same skin care regimen works as well on African Americans and Hispanics as it does on non-ethnic skin types.

But according to experts like Dr. Angelo P. Thrower, a dermatologist specializing in ethnic skin conditions, such skin presents unique challenges that have only recently begun to be addressed. He offers these answers to some frequently asked ethnic skin care questions:

Q: What are some problems specific to ethnic skin?

A: Ethnic skin is prone to a unique set of problems, ranging from dark spots and skin discoloration, to acne, shaving bumps and bumps on the neck.

Q: What’s the first step in determining how to care for my skin?

A: Start by finding out what type of skin you have. There are three general skin types: Oily skin, which is shiny and may feel bumpy; normal/combination skin, which has a few areas that are oily and others that are slightly dry; and dry skin, which tends to have matte finishes because of an accumulation of dead skin. Oily skin has many large pores, normal/combination skin has a moderate number of visible pores and dry skin has few, if any, visible pores.

Q: Do skin conditions affect black and white skin differently?

A: Sometimes. Black skin tends to exaggerate the skin’s response to disease by producing follicular excitements, or hair bumps, that are dry and rough to the touch.

Q: How do I choose a treatment?

A: Look for products made for your specific skin type. For instance, Dr. Thrower developed a line of products for ethnic skin called Heritage Skin Care. It’s specially formulated to treat common problems in skin-of-color, such as melasma, or dark patches and dark spots. The line is also formulated to treat dry skin and acne-a disease common in both black and white skin, but that reacts differently to treatment, depending on a person’s skin color.

Q: What can happen to the skin if the wrong product is used?

A: Most people’s skin isn’t oily around the eyes, on the corner of the nose, and around the mouth. If those areas are exposed to drying products on ethnic skin, irritation, skin discoloration and bump formation is likely.

Q. If I have dark skin, do I still need to be careful of the sun?

A: Even black skin tans and burns and must be protected. It’s a good idea to use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 every time you go outside, whether it seems sunny or not.

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