Asian acne

Asian skin

  • Acne very common in Asians
  • Tendency for hyperpigmentation

Acne is a very common issue for people of Asian descent. Unfortunately, few studies have been performed specifically on people with Asian skin. According to an article in the British Journal of Dermatology, "There are very few studies on the prevalence of acne vulgaris among Asian teenagers."1 However, there is some evidence that Asian adults suffer with acne less than other ethnicities.2

People with Asian skin tend to have a bigger issue with marks left behind after acne lesions heal.3-6 These marks, scientifically referred to as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, can stick around for a longer time in people with Asian skin and can be challenging to treat. See the hyperpigmentation part of this page for more on these marks and treatment options. In addition to hyperpigmentation, people with Asian skin have a somewhat higher incidence of keloid scarring from acne. Lastly, Asians may respond differently to hormone therapy, but again, research is limited in this area.7 The best bet is to get your acne under complete control first, preventing future breakouts and future hyperpigmentation. Then, once you are clear, if you choose to do so, you can try one of the many treatments for hyperpigmentation.

Acne develops in the same way regardless of skin color, and acne is treated in the same way in people of every ethnicity. Acne can be effectively treated with topical medications such as benzoyl peroxide and oral medications like Accutane (isotretinoin).8-10 Because of the severe birth defects that Accutane can cause, authorities in Japan have banned its use in that country.

Prevention is key. Get yourself completely cleared up so you are actively preventing future acne lesions, hyperpigmentation, and scarring. Then, if you so desire, you may try one of the various methods of treating hyperpigmentation.

  1. Tan HH, et al. "Community-based study of acne vulgaris in adolescents in Singapore." British Journal of Dermatology. 2007; 157(3): 547-51.
  2. Shen Y, et al. "Prevalence of Acne Vulgaris in Chinese Adolescents and Adults: a Community-based Study of 17,345 Subjects in Six Cities." Acta Dermato-Venereologica. 2012; 92(1): 40-4.
  3. Alexis AF and Lamb A. "Concomitant therapy for acne in patients with skin of color: A case-based approach." Dermatology Nursing. 2009; 21(1): 33-36.
  4. Shah SK and Alexis AF. "Acne in skin of color: Practical approaches to treatment." Journal of Dermatological Treatment. 2010; 21(3):206-211.
  5. Kim S and Cho KH. "Treatment of facial postinflammatory hyperpigmentation with facial acne in Asian patients using a Q-switched neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet laser." Dermatologic Surgery. 2010; 36(9): 1374-1380.
  6. Ho SGY, et al. "A retrospective analysis of the management of acne post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation using topical treatment, laser treatment, or combination topical and laser treatments in Oriental patients." Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. 2011; 43(1): 1-7.
  7. Yeung CK, et al. "A community-based epidemiological study of acne vulgaris in Hong Kong adolescents." Acta-Dermato Venereologica. 2002; 82(2): 104-7.
  8. Ahn HH and Kim IH. "Whitening effect of salicylic acid peels in Asian patients." Dermatologic Surgery. 2006; 32(3): 372-5; discussion 375.
  9. Lee HS and Kim IH. "Salicylic acid peels for the treatment of acne vulgaris in Asian patients." Dermatologic Surgery. 2003; 29(12): 1196-9.
  10. Gan EY, et al. "Isotretinoin is safe and efficacious in Asians with acne vulgaris." Journal of Dermatologic Treatment. 2012; 24(5): 387-91.

Further Reading

  1. Sato K, et al. "Anti-androgenic therapy using oral spironolactone for acne vulgaris in Asians." Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. 2006; 30(6): 689-94.
  2. Tu P, et al. "A comparison of adapalene gel 0.1% vs. tretinoin gel 0.025% in the treatment of acne vulgaris in China." Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. 2001; 15 Suppl 3: 31-6.