How is Acne in Skin of Color Different?


Acne is very common throughout the world.  It is commonly called breakouts or pimples. Most people get acne in their teenage years, and acne can continue into a person’s 30s or 40s. Sometimes acne starts later in life even if a person never had acne as a teenager.  Acne can occur on the face, chest, shoulders and back.  It can be very mild with only a few pimples or severe with cysts (larger bumps under the skin) and scarring. Sometimes healthcare providers struggle to diagnose and treat acne in pigmented skin because it looks different from acne in white skin. For skin of color patients, dark spots and scarring from acne are often the biggest concerns.

What Causes Acne?

Acne is caused by a combination of factors:  clogged pores, increased oil production, inflammation (redness and irritation) and bacteria. The pores of the skin become clogged and oil builds up in the pore.  Clogged pores can become inflamed with bacteria causing bumps and cysts. The inflammation can also cause damage leading to increased pigment (melanin): this leads to long lasting dark spots and scarring. 

What Makes Acne Worse?

  • Squeezing, scrubbing or picking at the skin
  • Irritants from the environment (i.e. pollution)
  • Greasy products such as skin or hair products with oil
  • Make-up and makeup brushes that aren’t clean
  • Hormones, acne often worsens during puberty and may be related to women’s period
  • Things that put pressure on your skin:  sports wear, helmets, cell phones, masks


How Do We Treat Acne in Skin of Color?

Your My Skin of Color provider will work with you to treat existing acne and prevent new breakouts. Our treatments target the causes of acne with a special focus on reducing and fading dark spots, which our patients tell us is one of the things that bother them most. Some things that may have worked for your friends or family may not be the right choice for your skin type. We don’t believe in one size fits all: your provider will design a treatment plan that is just for you based on your problem areas. Click below to start your consultation and get your acne treated today!