Question: I have struggled with acne since I moved to the US from Equador when I was 13. I am now 32 and its still a problem. Even small breakouts leave long lasting marks. What am I doing wrong? Are there special treatments for Latina skin I should know about?
Answer: I got this letter last month– very apppropriate since June is Acne Awarenss Month. According to Miami based dermatologist Mercedes Florez-White, acne in Latina skin needs a tailored treatment plan.
The American Academy of Dermatology spearates acne into four different categories from mild uncomplicated to intense inflammatory acne. Mild acne is usually triggered by teenage hormones or oil rich beauty care products. It consists primarily of black heads and superficial pimples. By contrast inflammatory acne has frequent breakouts that consists of cysts and hard nodules that can scar. SImple acne should be controlled by routinue cleansing and drugstore products that contain benzoyl peroxide and/or salicylic acid.Inflammatory acne needs heavy duty treatments that include retinoids, antibiotics, and often hormones.
So why is this background important to your question? Dr Florez believes that all acne in latin skin should be considered inflammatory. This means mild breakouts should not be ignored. Even small spots can develop darkened areas (aka hyperpigmenttion).
Acne Care for Latina Skin
To successfully manage acne in people of hispanic heritage, Dr Florenz has four key recommendations:
- Edit all the products you use on your face, body and hair. Popular ingredients like coconut oil and cocoa butter can provoke breakouts
- Use a synthetic detergent or fat free skin cleanser. Avoid anything with abrasive grains that can actually provoke hyperpigmentation
- Look for toners and face masks with glycolic or lactic acid to remove the top layer of skin cells that are clogging pores
- And never never go outside without using an oil free mineral based sunscreen. UV rays increase the deveopment of dark patches in acne troubled skin and a daily sunscreen keeps pigment producing cells sleepy and quiet.
If acne persists, ask your dermatologist about the new tools in their anti acne tool kit. For example. Azelaeic Acid ( brand name Finacea) is both anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. Its widely used in Latin America and just becoming a go- to medication in the US. Dapzone ( brand name Aczone) is also anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory that is another new effective acne fighting option. Doctors report that you can see improvements with a week or two and general clearing within two months.