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4 Common Skin Conditions in African Americans

author image Casey Holley
Casey Holley is a medical writer who began working in the health and fitness industries in 1995, while still in high school. She has worked as a nutrition consultant and has written numerous health and wellness articles for various online publications. She has also served in the Navy and is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in health administration from the University of Phoenix.
4 Common Skin Conditions in African Americans
African Americans are prone to various skin disorders. Photo Credit woman on the phone image by MAXFX from Fotolia.com

African Americans have sensitive skin and may suffer from a wide variety of skin disorders. For some, applying skin care products or shaving can cause skin conditions to develop. Some African Americans who suffer from skin conditions need the help of a dermatologist to help heal the problem and minimize the risk of long term difficulties from the condition.


There are two types of scars that African Americans may suffer from: keloid scars and hypertrophic scars. A keloid scar is raised up above the surrounding skin tissue; the scar may be sensitive and itch. The upper back, upper chest and shoulders are the most common locations for keloid scars, states the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD). Hypertrophic scars are similar to keloid scars, but they may fade over time and usually aren't as raised as keloid scars.


Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that can affect the skin and nails. It is caused by an overgrowth of skin cells. This condition causes thick scaly lesions on the skin. Psoriasis doesn't affect as many African Americans as people of European ancestry, states Psoriasis Net. Treatment for this condition includes specialized skin care and phototherapy.

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Pigment Changes

Hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the skin, is one pigment change that can occur in African Americans. Another pigment change is vitiligo. This condition, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, causes the skin to lose pigment. The most common areas affected are the face, forearms, hands and feet. Treatment usually consists of light therapy to even out the skin tone.


Eczema, which may affect African Americans, is also known as atopic dermatitis. This condition causes severe itching and skin irritation. Skin lesions that are caused by scratching may be present. Open sores or cracks that may ooze and then crust over are a sign of eczema. Eczema is most often diagnosed during infancy or childhood, and may get better with age, according to the Black Doctor website. Treatments for this condition are personalized depending on the location, severity, triggers and type of eczema.

Pseudofolliculitis Barbae

Pseudofolliculitis barbae, more commonly known as razor bumps, is caused by ingrown hair. It occurs in up to 60 percent of African American men, states the AOCD. Pimple-like bumps, pain and itching are symptoms of this condition. Treatment options include warm compresses, over-the-counter medications, stopping shaving, prescription treatments and cosmetic procedures, depending upon the severity of the condition.

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