Typically, when you read about how eczema looks on the skin, you’ll hear how it appears on lighter skin tones. In fact, based on a study in Social Science & Medicine, it’s thought that only 4.5% of medical textbooks show imagery of skin conditions on dark skin.
Given the fact that people of color could actually be at a greater risk of suffering from this skin condition, we think it’s time for a shift. That’s why today, we want to shed some light on what you need to know about eczema when you have melanin-rich skin.
What is Eczema?
First, it’s essential to understand exactly what eczema is. Simply put: Eczema is a red, itchy skin condition that causes a rash that typically appears on creases of skin, including on the back of the knees and elbows, but can ultimately appear anywhere.
Eczema often begins early in childhood and improves with age. Some children will grow out of it; however, others may develop eczema later in life, and some may need to manage it throughout their lives.
The exact cause of eczema is still unknown, but researchers suspect higher levels of inflammation in the body from an overactive immune system and a bacteria living in the skin microbiome called staph A. (or scientifically, Staphylococcus aureus) are to blame.
Prevalence of Eczema in People of Color
No matter your skin color or ethnicity, you’re capable of developing eczema. According to research, approximately 31.6 million Americans suffer from eczema. Of those, 11% are Caucasian/White, 10% are African American/Black, 13% Asian/Pacific Islander, and 13% Native American.
However, the statistics for children of various ethnicities look a little different. According to The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, of the children in the U.S. suffering from eczema, 19.3% are African American, 16.1% are caucasian, and 7.8% are Asian.
Based on these stats, eczema in children with darker skin tones is more prevalent.
Does Eczema Look Different on Black Skin?
In all skin tones, eczema is typically very itchy and causes dry patches of skin. Eczema may also cause scaling, crusting, lesions, or thickening of the skin.
However, eczema can look different on various skin colors — in regards to both color and texture.
For lighter skin, eczema patches often show up red. However, eczema on black skin frequently appears dark brown, purplish, or ashy (gray).
Eczema can be more challenging to diagnose or even go unnoticed on darker skin tones because of the lack of contrast in the coloring of the skin condition. Without the noticeable bright red spots on the skin, you may just think you’re suffering from standard dry skin.
However, there’s one very defining factor in eczema: the itch.
If you have a dry, scaling patch of skin that doesn’t itch, it likely isn’t eczema. Be sure to consult with your dermatologist to decipher which skin condition you’re suffering from.
According to the National Eczema Association, people with dark skin more commonly suffer from papular eczema, where small bumps form on the torso, arms, or legs. These bumps may also appear around the hair follicles, which is referred to as follicular accentuation and looks a lot like goosebumps.
It’s important to know that anyone with any skin color can experience these symptoms — they’re just more common in people with black skin.
So, if you’re experiencing bumps on your torso, arms, legs, or around the hair follicles, this could mean you’re suffering from eczema… even if redness isn’t visible!
How to Treat Eczema on Black Skin
No matter your skin color or ethnicity, the treatment options for eczema remain the same. Most dermatologists will recommend one (or more) of the following treatments:
- Heavy moisturizing creams
- Hydrocortisone cream or other steroid solutions
- Immunosuppressant medications
While topical corticosteroids are one of the most popular treatment options for eczema, they pose several risks. Steroids throw off the balance of your skin microbiome, which is actually one of the reasons you’re likely experiencing eczema in the first place.
So, in the long run, this isn’t an effective solution to the root problem. Not to mention, when you quit the use of your corticosteroid, you run the risk of experiencing the unwanted (and sometimes scary) effects of topical steroid withdrawal.
That’s why at Gladskin, we believe one of the most effective things you can do to treat your eczema is actually the exact opposite of what steroids do… You should rebalance your skin microbiome!
Rebalance the Skin Microbiome
Your skin microbiome is made up of the trillions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live on your skin’s surface.
Typically when we hear the word “bacteria,” we think of creepy crawlies and infections, but not all bacteria are bad! In a healthy microbiome, the good bacteria work together to defend against disease and other environmental threats.
So, when bad bacteria starts to overgrow in your skin microbiome and cause skin complications such as eczema, we’ve come up with a solution that gets to the root cause of the issue: Gladskin Eczema Cream.
Gladskin Eczema Cream uses Micreobalance® (our patented smart protein) that works with your skin, instead of against it, to restore balance to the skin microbiome gently and effectively.
It’s free of steroids, fragrances, drying alcohols, preservatives, parabens, and sulfates and is clinically tested and safely formulated for anyone three months and up — which means you can help curb your itch without worrying about any detrimental secondary effects.
In fact, four out of five users of our Eczema Cream experience reduced itch and redness associated with eczema — and you can too!
Replenish Moisture in the Skin
Research shows that African Americans are more likely to have dry skin, because the skin doesn’t retain as much water as lighter skin tones. This is caused by increased trans-epidermal water loss as well as lower ceramide levels. Ceramides help prevent permeability by creating a barrier in the skin.
Because of the permeability and water loss of darker skin, it’s important to help replenish the moisture of the skin daily with a thick, fragrance-free moisturizer to help soothe dry and eczema-prone skin.
Luckily, if you want to rebalance your skin microbiome and moisturize at the same time, Gladskin Eczema Cream does both! Otherwise, you can also try cocoa butter, shea butter, mineral oils, or another preservative- and fragrance-free moisturizer to add moisture back into the skin.
No matter what color your skin is, we at Gladskin are dedicated to uncovering the latest research on eczema and providing you with an effective yet gentle solution to your itchy and uncomfortable skin — because we believe everyone deserves to feel glad in their own skin!
To help rebalance your skin microbiome and soothe eczema flare-ups, learn more about Gladskin Eczema Cream.