Eczema is an extremely common skin condition. It appears in people around the world, but it shows greater prevalence in African American, Hispanic, and Asian people. Eczema can affect anyone regardless of age or skin type. However, this skin condition is often harder to identify on black skin, and, therefore, harder to relieve.
Our complete guide is designed to give you all of the information, tips, and tricks you need to determine if you have eczema.
Table of contents:
- What Is Eczema?
- What Causes Eczema in People of Color?
- What Are the Symptoms of Eczema?
- Increased Skin Dryness and Sensitivity
- Hyperpigmentation and Hypopigmentation
- Red or Itchy Rash
- How Does Eczema Affect Black Skin Differently?
- It May Be Harder to Identify
- Discoloration of Skin Tone
- Can You Treat Eczema on Black Skin?
- Increase Skin Hydration
- Identify Your Triggers
- Avoid Skincare Products With Fragrance
- Talk To Your Dermatologist
- Topical Corticosteroid Cream
What Is Eczema?
Atopic dermatitis, or atopic eczema, is the most common type of eczema and affects roughly 31 million Americans. Eczema is a skin condition that causes your skin to become dry, flaky, and irritated. There are seven different types of eczema:
- Atopic Dermatitis
- Contact Dermatitis
- Dyshidrotic Eczema
- Nummular Eczema
- Seborrheic Dermatitis
- Stasis Dermatitis
All types of eczema have the same trademark symptoms of dry, scaly, and flaky skin. The difference is that each one can be caused and triggered by varying factors and can be chronic or only flare up occasionally.
What Causes Eczema in People of Color?
Eczema is more common in those of African descent than in those with lighter skin tones. This can be caused by several factors, including:
- Genetic components
- Exposure to eczema-causing allergens
- Lower moisture content in dark skin, as opposed to other races and ethnicities.
What Are the Symptoms of Eczema?
Those who experience eczema can have a weaker skin barrier, which increases the risk of irritation and eczema-related symptoms. These are the most common symptoms related to eczema.
Increased Skin Dryness and Sensitivity
Eczema weakens the skin barrier, so it can be more challenging for your skin to stay hydrated and retain water. Because of it, eczema in black skin can cause your skin to dry out faster and leave you with scaly and flaky skin.
Generic image of a person with dry, flaky skin
In addition, when your skin is irritated and dehydrated, it can become more sensitive to external factors such as lotions, soaps, and allergens, which can add to your skin’s irritation.
Hyperpigmentation and Hypopigmentation
Hyperpigmentation is noticed when the affected skin becomes darker than your normal skin tone and can appear as dark spots or patches of uneven skin tones. Hyperpigmentation is a common symptom of eczema and can last for weeks or months after an eczema flare-up has gone away.
Hypopigmentation is on the opposite side of the symptom spectrum. Hypopigmentation often occurs following an eczema flare-up. As the red and itchy patches heal, they may become lighter as your skin repairs itself and fades over time.
Red or Itchy Rash
As we already mentioned, eczema is frequently associated with a red, itchy rash that can occur anywhere on your body. It is commonly located on the legs, arms, and hands.
The eczema rash can appear differently on black skin, but there are several key signs to look for to determine if your rash may be eczema.
- Bumpy or raised skin. An eczema rash can make your skin very irritated. This can often appear as bumps, similar to razor burn or swelling of the skin, making it seem raised or swollen compared to your non-irritated skin.
- Warm to the touch. The irritation of your skin can send your body into attack mode to try and repair your eczema-affected skin. This can cause increased blood flow and make the affected area feel warm to the touch.
How Does Eczema Affect Black Skin Differently?
Because black skin can be naturally drier than light skin tones, eczema may be more severe or last for longer periods, depending on your skin type. In addition, there are two other common instances where eczema can affect black skin differently.
It May Be Harder to Identify
If you have a darker skin tone, it would be more challenging for you to determine if you have eczema-related symptoms.
Getting to know your skin when you don’t have flare-ups can help you to notice when your skin seems off. The patches may appear dark brown or even purple.
In addition, you can look for symptoms with a specific visible characteristic to identify symptoms associated with eczema.
Discoloration of Skin Tone
Earlier, we mentioned that eczema could often cause hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation on your skin. Black skin is more prone to it.
This can cause light spots and dark spots to last longer on black skin, and if the eczema is severe and your skin isn’t properly cared for, it can lead to prolonged changes.
Can You Treat Eczema on Black Skin?
Eczema is a life-long skin condition. The good news is that there are ways to manage the symptoms. With these tips and tricks up your sleeves, you can care for your skin the way it needs to be and decrease the risk of severe eczema flare-ups and uncomfortable irritation.
Increase Skin Hydration
Your skin is always thirsty. Happy, healthy, and hydrated skin is strong against external factors that can cause damage and make it vulnerable to flare-ups. When you keep your skin adequately moisturized, your skin can maintain its elasticity and integrity even amid a flare-up.
Generic image of a black person applying moisturizer
Our Shea & Cocoa Butter Moisturizing Lotion combines two rich nutrients with essential vitamins to strengthen your skin’s barrier and boost your natural collagen production to help maintain healthy and strong skin.
Dry skin is a sign that your skin’s barrier needs to be nourished. Moisturize the skin two to three times per day, depending on your skin type, or whenever your skin starts to feel dry. Be careful not to over-apply your moisturizer, as this can cause your skin to become too oily.
Identify Your Triggers
Eczema can be triggered by several different environmental causes. That includes food allergies, prolonged exposure to chemicals in items like household cleaners, and cold weather.
Identifying when your flare-ups occur and what you were doing or eating before the flare-up can help determine some possible triggers of your eczema so that you know what to avoid.
Avoid Skincare Products With Fragrance
Artificial and natural fragrances can irritate your skin if you are prone to eczema flare-ups. Products such as soaps, perfumes, and laundry detergents, can trigger an eczema flare-up from prolonged irritation.
Opting for fragrance-free products can help protect your skin from unnecessary irritants without losing the benefits of your products.
Just bear in mind that many products can say “fragrance-free” when they are only free of artificial fragrances. However, it is essential to check the ingredient list for fragrances or perfumes to ensure you are using fragrance-free products.
Talk To Your Dermatologist
If you have questions or need advice on how to help manage eczema, talking to your dermatologist is a great way to get help with this frustrating condition. Severe cases of eczema may significantly benefit from a dermatology appointment.
Topical Corticosteroid Cream
Depending on the severity of your eczema, some dermatologists may prescribe a topical corticosteroid cream to help alleviate the redness, swelling, and itching brought on by the eczema flare-up.
These corticosteroid creams can also be found over the counter (OTC), but you should speak to a doctor before using them to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
WOW Skin Science embraces holistic beauty as the skincare standard — all-natural solutions for your skin to feel as good as you look! When it comes to eczema, those with black skin may need some extra TLC to help keep it strong and healthy.
Understanding your skin and its patterns can help you know when something isn’t right and find out the best steps that you can take to help nourish your skin.
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