As a common group, people with Asian ethnicity often have very dark hair and dark eyes, but there is much diversity in Asian skin tones – from very light, pale skin to light or dark brown.
One common issue for Asisan Americans is the residual discoloration or hyperpigmentation as a result of blemishes, acne and melasma. (what is melasma?)
The American Academy of Dermatology writes about these medical and aethetics issues:
“The standards of beauty for Asian skin differ by region, but smooth skin and a flawless complexion are highly desired for most Asians,” said Dr. Kundu. “That is why treating the initial concern [acne] as well as any pigmentation problems that may occur as the result of the treatment are so important.”
Eliminating Acne One Step at a Time
Acne and specifically inflammatory acne is a common affliction for those of Asian ethnicity. Asian skin has an increased amount of melanin (the pigment in skin) compared to white or caucasian skin. Skin cells producing melanin tend to be more sensitive to any type of inflammation or injury. Because Asian skin becomes more inflamed with deeper acne pustules and papules, patients may be left with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), an increased pigmentation or dark spots at the sites of inflammation.
“…Asian acne patients often are much more concerned with the after-effects of acne and how their skin may be affected by the resulting discoloration or scarring rather than the acne itself,” said Dr. Kundu. “However, the first goal of any successful treatment regimen is to control the acne with topical and/or systemic medications…”
Dr. Kundu prescribes medications to clear acne and also recommends medications or over-the-counter products to even out the tone of Asian skin. These can help to minimize the discoloration after-effects. She notes that sunscreen is very important to protect against future discoloration and hyperpigmentation.
“Many of my Asian patients do not realize how important regular sun protection is to prevent the signs of aging skin, including preserving skin tone and helping minimize pigmentation problems from acne,” said Dr. Kundu. “Minimizing intense sun exposure, wearing sun protective clothing and wide-brimmed hats, along with applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 is a must for treating Asian skin for this reason.”
An important component of treating acne is exfoliation or slouging off dead surface skin cells. Dr. Kundu often recommends glycolic acid, salicylic acid or topical retinoids to her patients to remove the surface skin cells and improve both acne and hyperpigmentation.
Once the acne disorder is under control, the second goal is to address the resulting pigmentation problems. Typically bleaching (skin lightening) agents, such as hydroquinone, as well as chemical peels and cosmeceuticals are employed to even out tone. Patients must be cautious about purchasing bleaching creams. There have been organizations cited for selling products that contain too high levels of hydroquinone or toxic substances.
It is therefore very important to discuss your acne and tone treatment program with your qualified medical provider.
Melasma is a tough hurdle for every ethnicity, but there are multiple treatments that may prove effective. However, incorrectly treating melasma areas can actually worsen the appearance, so make sure you used a licensed aesthetic practice for treatment options. An aesthetic doctor may recommend a series of peels, microneedling and laser skin resurfacing to either eliminate or lighten the affected areas. Melasma should never be treated with any type of light bearing laser, such as photofacial.
Talk with one of the providers at Derma Health and see what options may be available for you!
SOURCE information from American Academy of Dermatology www.aad.org