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Eczema of dark skin : the specificities

eczema black skin

Author: Dr. Marie Appay, Pharmacist

Eczema is a very common skin disease in which inflamed patches of skin appear with small pimples, called blisters.

In reality, there is not just one type of eczema. The best known is atopic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis. Allergic contact eczema is also very common. Other types are rarer, such as dyshidrosis, nummular eczema or stasis eczema.

This set of pathologies represents 10 to 33% of the reasons for consulting patients with black skin, the same rate is found for white skin. Also, whatever their skin color, atopic dermatitis is the first cause of consultation of children in dermatology.

This article will allow you to understand atopic eczema more precisely. What are its causes of appearance ? What is its medical treatment and, above all, what are the right gestures to adopt when affected by this dermatosis ?

Black, matte and mixed skins have particular specificities, which must obviously be tken into account to fight effectively against the appearance of new plaques.

What is the atopy ?

 Atopy is a term used to signify a genetic predisposition to allergies.

Our parents, or grandparents, gave us the genes, or "ingredients" that make us more vulnerable to allergies. It is therefore a manufacturing anomaly from birth. These genetic abnormalities result in deficient defence barriers against allergic substances. In the case of eczema, it is the alteration of the cutaneous barrier that is at issue.

Physiologically, the skin is a solid and quasi-impermeable bulwark that prevents body water from leaving and external elements from entering. However, atopic skin could be compared to a strainer. The loss of intercellular cohesion leads to :

  • a loss of water, i.e. skin dehydration
  • increased penetration of small elements present in our environment (dust, mites, pollen, etc.).

These external agents are recognized as dangerous by the atopic organism. To defend itself, the body triggers an inflammatory reaction: the skin becomes red and strong itching is associated. Scratching leads to further erosion of the skin, which becomes even more porous: a vicious circle is set in motion.

It should also be remembered that darker skin is physiologically drier and more sensitive than Caucasian skin. This is due to the fact that they do not contain enough skin lipids, called ceramides, which have the role of making the skin tight.

To simplify, it is customary to compare the skin to a brick wall : the bricks being the skin cells and the ceramides being the cement. If there is not enough cement, the wall becomes porous : external agents can penetrate and skin hydration evaporates. The article "skin dryness and hydration" is useful to further understand this particularity.

In black skins, eczema flare-ups take the form of hyperpigmented patches that often evolve towards discoloration, particularly in the folds.

How to act to stop the vicious circle ?

For an effective treatment, it is necessary to operate on two levels:

  1.        Stopping skin inflammation
  2.        Restore the skin barrier

In order to fight against inflammation, specific creams are prescribed on prescription. These creams based on cortisonecreameczema cream treatment eczema black skin are to be applied to the affected areas. Their role is to decrease the reactions of defenses of our body when it is in contact with small external agents that penetrate the skin. They deliver a message of stop to the defense cells of our body.

Some people suffering from eczema have noticed that the sun has a beneficial effect on their plaques. This phenomenon is due to the fact that the mechanism of action of UV rays can be related to that of cortisone-based creams: it decreases immunity and prevents the body from over-reacting. In fact, some treatments for atopic dermatitis stem from this observation since they use UV rays to treat severe forms of eczema.

In order to restore the cutaneous barrier, good gestures are to be applied daily.

First of all, it is important to eliminate as much as possible the allergenic substances that can penetrate the skin. Dust mites, pollens and moulds will be avoided by simple gestures.

  • Airing the house on a daily basis
  • Clean bedding once a week
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Brush your hair before going to bed
  • Vacuum frequently
  • Use acaricide three times a year

It is also necessary to pay special attention to the chosen textiles. It is advisable to prefer cotton over synthetics and wool, to cut labels and to use hypoallergenic detergents.

Finally, using suitable products is essential to take care of your skin and allow it to regain its barrier role.

The atopix black skin care routine

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