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 The same is true of Asian adults who suffer with acne.
People with Asian skin tend to have a bigger issue with marks left behind after acne lesions heal.2-5 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. 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. In addition to hyperpigmentation, people with Asian skin have a higher incidence of keloid scarring from acne. Lastly, Asians may respond differently to hormone therapy, but again, research is limited in this area.6
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.7-8
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.
Acne is the most common skin disorder in black adolescents and black adults and is often the primary reason for a visit to a doctor or dermatologist.1-3 According to the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, "Acne vulgaris is an extremely common dermatological problem in Africans and people of African descent worldwide."4 Despite this prevalence, relatively few studies have been conducted on people with black skin.
People with black skin tend to have inflammatory acne, the most common type of acne. This is actually good news because inflammatory acne is easier to treat than non-inflammatory acne. Black people also tend to have fewer nodules and cysts, the more severe types of acne lesions. Despite the fact that black people tend to have less severe lesions, there is a higher chance of keloid scarring, especially on the chest and back, making effective acne prevention paramount. Next, all non-Caucasian skin types tend to have a higher incidence of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, a fancy term for marks left after acne goes away. This is such a big issue that dermatologists often remark on how their black patients consider these marks worse than the acne itself.2,5-8 See the hyperpigmentation section below to learn more about how to contend with these dark spots that acne leaves behind.
Sometimes the greasy emollients which make up black hair care products can come into contact with the skin and aggravate acne. If you use these products and tend to break out along your hairline or in places where your particular hair style comes into contact with your skin, this may be the culprit.2
Luckily, inflammatory acne develops and is treated the same way regardless of skin color, and with the right regimen is easy to clear. There are several options including topical treatment as well as Accutane. According to the International Journal of Dermatology, "benzoyl peroxide is particularly effective for the inflammatory component." Benzoyl peroxide is a mild drying and peeling agent, but people with black skin tend to have less flakiness and scaling of the skin and tolerate it well.9-10 There is a highly effective topical regimen here on acne.org which works extremely well on darker skin types.
The foremost concern should be prevention. Preventing acne will prevent the dark spots that are often left behind and will also prevent scarring. Concentrate your efforts on clearing up your acne and getting it under complete control. Then, if you choose, you can try on one of the many methods of hastening healing of the dark spots that are left behind.
Note People of African descent should not take the antibiotic minocycline to treat acne symptoms. "Fatal cases of hypersensitivity" have been reported with this drug in people of African descent.10
Latino people, just like every other ethnic group, suffer from acne at a high rate and are affected in the same way emotionally.1-4 However, the medical community has performed very little research on Latino people with acne. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, "there is a need to understand the variety of dermatologic disorders that manifest in ethnic groups of non-Caucasian skin types."5 But all is not lost. Acne develops the same way regardless of the type of skin a person has, and is also treated in the same fashion.
People with Latino skin experience a higher occurrence of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.5-9 This is a fancy way of saying dark spots which are left behind after acne lesions have healed. These dark spots can take a long time to fade and can be as troubling as the acne itself. Check out the hyperpigmentation section of this page to learn more about post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Treatments for acne are consistent no matter the ethnicity of the skin. With the right regimen, acne in Latino people can be treated extremely well. There is a regimen based on benzoyl peroxide here on acne.org which works remarkably well for Latino people. Another option is Accutane.
The most important goal is prevention. Preventing acne will prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and potential scarring. Once you get your acne completely cleared up and are actively preventing new lesions from forming, you may embark on one of the methods of treating hyperpigmentation.
Acne is an extremely common skin disorder in Caucasian adolescents and adults. According to Cutis, a peer-reviewed clinical journal for dermatologists, "During visits by white patients, the...most common [diagnosis] recorded [was] acne."1 Upwards of 95% of Caucasian people experience acne at some point in their lives.
People with lighter skin tend to have a higher incidence of nodules and cysts, the more severe types of acne lesions. Caucasian people also tend toward dryer skin, making drying and peeling medications more of a challenge. White people must also contend with more noticeable lesions when they do break out. The acute redness and inflammation that directly surround an acne lesion stand in stark contrast to light skin tones. However, when it comes to the red spots that acne leaves behind, white people tend to have less of a struggle. While white people do experience post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation—a fancy term for these marks—they experience them less often than their darker-skinned counterparts.2-5 Also, these marks tend to fade more quickly on lighter skin. However, Caucasian skin, just like any other ethnicity, can scar.
Prevention is key. Preventing acne will not only improve quality of life, it will help prevent potential scarring.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, also known as dark spots or red spots that are left after acne lesions heal is a common difficulty that acne sufferers with non-Caucasion skin share.1-3 Hyperpigmentation is common among people of African, Asian, and Latino descent, as well as other forms of "ethnic" skin.4 Various forms of acne therapy are often mistakenly blamed for the creation of these marks, but it is the skin's inflammatory process which creates them. These marks can take months, and in rare cases years, to fade.5 Although they are often referred to as "scars," they are not permanent. Nonetheless, they cause many people intense distress. Often, people with hyperpigmentation describe this issue as more concerning than the acne itself.
Picking at acne lesions is perhaps the worst culprit when it comes to these marks. Absolutely do not pick at acne lesions. Properly pop a pimple, and then leave the lesion alone. Also, while it may seem intuitive to scrub marks away, harsh scrubbing will only prolong their duration and should be avoided. Next, wearing a sunscreen is a huge help in getting these marks to fade as fast as possible.1,4,6 But the best way to prevent the marks is to treat the acne itself, thus preventing future acne lesions and any hyperpigmentation that they might leave behind.7 Acne is treated the same regardless of skin color and responds extremely well to proper topical treatment. When acne is severe, widespread, and deeply scarring, Accutane is also an option.
Useful link Frances, one of Acne.org's earliest members, posted a nice overview of hyperpigmentation on the forum.