As skin problems go away, few are as misunderstood as rosacea on black skin. Flares of rosacea, a skin condition that causes chronic inflammation, can be a source of discomfort and embarrassment for many, but fake news has kept it relatively under the radar. There is constant misinformation circulating about rosacea – it’s just blushing or it’s an allergic reaction – that can negatively impact how we treat it. But the most crucial myth to debunk? Only whites suffer from rosacea.
According to Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, up to 40 million people of color struggle with rosacea. It’s a lucrative market to tap into, but most brands still don’t represent a person of color in mainstream beauty ads and communications. Worse yet, although it is far from rare, there is a shocking lack of information about rosacea in black and brown skin, which often results in a misdiagnosis.
Whether it is erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (or redness of the cheeks) or papulopustular rosacea (the bumpy and spotted type), the exact cause is still unknown. But as Nada Elbuluk, MD, a Los Angeles-based certified dermatologist explains, symptoms are universal, regardless of skin color or ethnicity. “Rosacea is basically an inflammatory condition that presents itself most often on the face,” explains Elbuluk. “It is made up of tiny broken blood vessels, mostly on the cheeks and nose. Certain triggers can cause these broken blood vessels to dilate so that the person looks flushed and flushed.” Other symptoms include tenderness, swelling, and changes in the texture of the skin.
But that’s where the similarities end, and darker skin tones face a whole new set of challenges. The signs of rosacea are much more nuanced in black skin because the obvious redness does not present the same. “The melanin in the skin tends to mask the redness, which we medically call erythema,” Elbuluk explains. “This is really the reason rosacea is missed [on Black skin] so often, because it’s a more subtle presentation. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, experts say.
Why is rosacea on black skin misdiagnosed?
There’s no denying that it’s easier to spot redness and broken capillaries more clearly on pale skin. But that doesn’t mean black skin automatically gets a free rosacea pass. Contrary to popular belief, says Ryan Turner, MD, a certified dermatologist in New York City, the inflammation is there, “it can show up as a purple, purple, or dark brown tint” instead.
Likewise, as Rose Ingleton, MD, a board-certified dermatologist for the City of New York, explains, certain types of rosacea can appear remarkably similar to other skin conditions, especially acne. “In people with darker skin, rosacea often appears as inflamed bumps and pustules; the skin is also more responsive to various skin care products, so patients may experience a tingling sensation,” explains she does. Seduce.
Report the confusion and patients trying – and failing – to manage their symptoms with the wrong over-the-counter products. In other words, throwing gasoline on a fire after it is extinguished. “Someone may have just been diagnosed with acne. But the background part of rosacea is missed,” Elbuluk explains, noting that this can be problematic because “the way [dermatologists] approaching people with acne and rosacea is slightly different. ”