Have you ever noticed spots or patches on skin that are a different shade than other areas? Often times we reference this as hyperpigmentation, which can be used to describe an area of the skin that is darker than the surrounding skin. This can be due to something benign, like a mole, or something malignant, like skin cancer. Benign skin conditions can include moles, birthmarks, skin infections, drug induced rashes/spots, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation that can result from trauma, an old acne spot, melasma and more. Malignant skin conditions can include melanoma and pigmented Basal Cell Carcinoma.
What does this mean for you? If something hyperpigmented on your skin is worsening, I would advise you to see a board-certified dermatologist. Furthermore, I would practice good skin care, which includes daily sunscreen use, especially on the face, neck, chest, and hands. These are common areas where patients come in seeking laser and cosmetic help for sun damage. Many people think that patients with darker skin types do not need daily sunscreen. However, that’s not the case – we all do!
We know that the sun eats up our collagen, which you can see in the searchable “truck driver skin” reference. We also know that many of us do not wear enough sunscreen in our day-to-day. As a dermatologist I cannot stress enough the importance of wearing sunscreen daily but remember – wearing sunscreen does NOT mean that your skin will not tan or darken when in the sun. Using extra protection like wearing a hat and seeking shade when outdoors, particularly if you are worried about hyperpigmentation, is key. These practices are also necessary post procedures, such as after surgery or laser treatments. If you have a benign skin condition that appears hyperpigmented, regardless of the location, you want to ensure that there is minimal contact with the sun as it will only darken the area.
Typically, hyperpigmentation in and of itself is NOT symptomatic. However, if it is due to a skin infection, it may be itchy or painful. If the cause is pigmented Basal Cell Carcinoma (skin cancer), it can bleed, enlarge, and crust. Just because something is not symptomatic, does not necessarily mean it cannot be concerning, so always check with your dermatologist. If you’re in need of finding a provider, utilize Vaseline x HUED’s directory of dermatologists and practitioners to meet with a medical expert who understands the care that your skin needs.
Next up, let’s address another common concern I encounter with my patients daily. One is post inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne, an old rash, post-surgical scars, or any other procedure that created temporary inflammation. For these patients, I review good skin care and treatment options using medications that help even out the skin tone. These can come with side effects, so it is prudent to inform your dermatologist of what medications you have tried as well as the concentrations of each. Those steps are advised to ensure efforts are not duplicated and can be treated most efficiently. Many times, patients are eager to start laser treatment to lighten spots quickly. We have many laser options available, but one must remember that being aggressive with laser treatment, (which causes inflammation), can exacerbate the hyperpigmentation. Our skin is the extremely delicate and takes time to heal, so it’s always worth remembering that results will are not immediate. Due to the sensitivity of our skin, I often use a synergistic approach using all the tools we have available, like medications, lasers, and comprehensive skin care, to optimize our time and effort.
Hyperpigmentation can affect anyone, regardless of skin color. Have you ever seen someone with a scratch that healed and left a brown spot? That is hyperpigmentation. Or an acne lesion that has gone away but left a brown spot? This is another example of hyperpigmentation. Being in the sun will darken the pigment in the skin, so be aware of that! For additional ways to receive Vitamin D beyond that sunshine, try out foods and supplements fortified with the necessary Vitamin D. In the meantime, when you are outside, make sure you spend time in the sun safely.
As a Board-certified Pediatric Dermatologist, I am frequently asked the top recommended ways to care for a baby’s skin. This is absolutely one of my favorite questions to answer, especially with September being Baby Safety Month! Caring for baby skin requires incredibly gentle care, while their skin is maturing. Most people do not know that there are developmental and structural changes that occur within the skin as a baby grows. It takes anywhere from 1 to 4 years for a newborn baby’s skin to fully develop after birth. During this time, it is especially important to choose the safest and most gentle products formulated for babies. Let’s take a deeper dive and uncover the leading recommendations on how to best care for your baby’s skin.
Bathing requires the use of a gentle body wash along with tepid water. You never want to accidentally burn the skin of a young baby during bath time from the faucet water. You want to first check with parts of your body that are more sensitive to heat, such as your inner wrist or elbow. It’s also important not to keep babies in the bath for very long. Usually a 3-to-5-minute bath is sufficient in most cases. Young babies are particularly at risk for hypothermia (or low temperatures) if left in water for too long. An additional best practice is to avoid harsh soaps due to their alkaline pH, which wreaks havoc on the skin. An overall great gentle bath wash that meets those needs is the Baby Dove Sensitive Moisture Tip-to-Toe Fragrance-Free Wash!
Moisturization is extremely important to replenish lost water and natural oils needed by our skin during the bathing process. I recommend that following a short bath, apply a gentle moisturizer that contains safe ingredients. Ingredients to avoid in your baby’s moisturizer include: parabens, fragrances, dyes, lanolin, formaldehyde, and other sensitizing agents. If your baby has sensitive or eczema prone skin, reach for a cream or ointment-based moisturizer over a lotion. This skin type will likely require more support. My absolute favorite is Vaseline Original Unscented Petroleum Jelly. It comes in a large size that is affordable.
The diaper region is a very tricky area to care for as nearly any healthy baby skin can develop a diaper rash. This region often has prolonged contact time to urine and feces that is harsh on newborn skin. The contact on the immature skin from these harsh elements will change the local pH and result in the possible breakdown of the skin, leading to the beginning of a diaper rash (appearing as pink to bright red skin). To minimize the risk of this, the first, and most important step is to do frequent diaper changes throughout the day and night. As any parent or caregiver knows this could be a difficult feat. Diapers with a wetness indicator strip can be very helpful here. This will prompt parents and caregivers to quickly change a wet diaper and avoid prolonged irritation of the skin. If a diaper rash is severe, I often recommend temporarily discontinuing diaper wipes and switching to a soft cotton swab with water to gently cleanse the area when needed. After that step, applying a barrier cream is a must! If you see small red bumps (especially those with white pus-filled tops), scaling, peeling, raw broken, or swollen skin, it’s time to visit your baby’s pediatrician or pediatric dermatologist. If that arises, your baby’s diaper rash could have potential complications, such as a yeast infection, and require prescription medications as a cure.
Eczema/ Sensitive Skin
For babies with sensitive, allergic prone skin, I recommend products with the base ingredient of petroleum which helps provide the occlusion and reinforcement for a proper skin barrier function. My absolute favorite is Vaseline Healing Jelly Baby, which is triple-purified and helpful for protecting chafed red skin. It is my favorite because it is also hypo-allergenic and contains no irritants. The Vaseline mini travel size or Healing Jelly Stick are great for travel and for to-go the diaper bag. Waterproofing your baby’s skin with the best occlusive agent out there is also easy to do as you can find them at your local drug store or online.
To the untrained eye, Psoriasis may resemble other skin conditions, such as eczema, Seborrheic Dermatitis, or even certain skin cancers. Although numerous skin conditions may cause dryness, itchiness, and skin patches, Psoriasis is a condition that has its own characteristics, causes, and treatments. Let’s break down what exactly is Psoriasis, how we can differentiate it from other skin conditions, and how we can treat Psoriasis with budget-friendly products.
Psoriasis, which comes from the Greek meaning ‘itchy condition,’ is an immune-mediated skin condition that occasionally causes itchy skin. People with Psoriasis have overactive immune systems that speed up the production and overgrowth of skin cells. The overproduction ultimately results in a build-up of skin cells on the face, body, and scalp. This is how the characteristic signs of skin patches and bumps are formed.
Although the exact mechanism behind this immune overstimulation is yet to be identified, we do know the key features of Psoriasis. This skin condition is genetic and can occur in both males and females. Stress, smoking, hormonal changes, and allergies can all trigger acute flares of Psoriasis. Symptoms usually start to develop in the late teens, between the ages of 15 – 20, but Psoriasis can arise at any age. Psoriasis is not confined to one skin type, tone, or texture, and people of all skin colors can be diagnosed with Psoriasis.
Now that we know the basics of Psoriasis, let’s take a look at how skin changes may manifest. There are 5 types of Psoriasis and as mentioned, changes can arise on the face, body, or scalp. The most common type is known as Plaque Psoriasis, which creates inflamed red patches and plaques. These plaques are usually covered with scales and mostly appear on the knees, elbows, back, and scalp. Other types of Psoriasis may appear anywhere on the body, even on the nails, feet, and eyelids.
Skin patches, plaques, and scales may vary in color and shape, and may manifest uniquely on different skin tones. For example, people with darker skin tones most commonly have dark brown or purplish-gray patches, while lighter skin tones usually have pink or red patches.
Similar plaque colors, raised skin texture, appearance of skin bumps, and crusty patches are reasons why Psoriasis and skin cancer are sometimes confounded. As subtypes exist in both Psoriasis and skin cancer, making the correct diagnosis between these two skin conditions is paramount.
This brings us to the next point. How can medical professionals diagnose Psoriasis? Along with conducting a thorough assessment of a patient’s family history, Board Certified Dermatologists also examine the skin, scalp, and nails for characteristic changes, signs, or noticeable patchiness. If the results are inconclusive, a small skin sample, known as a biopsy, will be taken for further investigation –- under a microscope.
Let’s say the results came back as positive for Psoriasis. What do we do now? Although the diagnosis may seem overwhelming to most, the good news is many types of Psoriasis can be managed at home with over-the-counter medications and ointments after treating the more severe stage with your dermatologist.
This skin condition can improve with skin products and ointments that hydrate and moisturize the skin. Emollients help trap the moisture inside the skin and they reduce the appearance of dry scales and patches. For example, the Vaseline Clinical Care Dry Hands Rescue is a great option for treating dry and rough skin on the hands and fingers. For larger skin areas, you can go for the Vaseline Intensive Care Deep Moisture Jelly Cream, which moisturizes extremely dry skin and protects the skin barrier. Along with hydrating skin products, reducing everyday stress, and maintaining a well-balanced diet can work to in minimizing acute flares of Psoriasis.
But as with any other skin condition, your optimal treatment regimen may be unique and different from most. It’s always best to consult with your Dermatologist and to create a treatment plan that works best for your specific skin condition and skincare needs. If you’re in need of finding a dermatologist, utilize Vaseline x HUED’s directory of dermatologists and practitioners to meet with a provider who understands the care that your skin needs.
If we were to list the best way to take a selfie, I am sure one of the top requests would be in the natural sun. Unfortunately, the natural lighting combined with the sun’s glow gives melanated skin tones, making the Instagram feed a permanent post.
The sun is nature’s best highlight, but it can also be our skin’s biggest enemy if we do not take the necessary steps to provide protection. Unfortunately, despite what we were told as melanated people, natural skin can only protect us for so long. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 90% of skin aging is due to sun exposure. So one protector is that sunscreen needs to be used in the summer and throughout the year.
Sunscreen is often marketed in the summer because more Americans are prone to spend more time outdoors. However, a survey found that close to 60% of Americans do not mark summer by date but by the temperature rise. Regardless of temperature, sunscreen protects from the sun’s rays year-round. According to Yale Scientific, sunscreen works to block and absorb UV radiation by using both physical and chemical components.
As melanated people, we need to actively prevent sunburn and be aware of what sunburn looks like on our skin—your risk of melanoma doubles after suffering from 5 or more sunburns. Research recommends sunscreen with SPF 30 and above every 90 minutes while outside. Sunscreen with hats, sunglasses, and UV protective clothing will be the most effective.
Recently, more sunscreen products have been created to help melanated skin. As a child, you may have run into an issue if the sunscreen does not properly soak into your skin and potentially turn skin purple or leave a white residue. However, looking for a lightweight sunscreen that possibly doubles as a moisturizer will help not get that sunscreen overcast.
Now is the time to start adding sunscreen or other UV ray blockers into your daily skincare and morning routine. Below are tips that can help:
Melanated skin deserves protection, and we no longer have to wonder about what sunburn looks like and feels like on our skin. Thanks to Vaseline x HUEDs database “See My Skin,” photos of different skin conditions such as cancer and eczema are available for review. See My Skin is a dermatologist-backed platform created, so those with melanated skin no longer have to wonder about their skin conditions.
Keeping your skin covered, sunscreen, hats, shades, and platforms like See My Skin are ways to ensure lasting healthy skin. Also, find a dermatologist who knows your skin needs under the directory at HUED. Summer is here, and so is sun safety.
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Skin health is important to prioritize year-round, but with May being Skin Cancer Awareness Month, it’s important to share vital information on Melanoma, prevention, early detection, and ways to seek help and proper care with a board-certified dermatologist.
What is Melanoma?
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that arises when melanin-pigment making cells (melanocytes) grow abnormally. This form of skin cancer is most common on the trunk and extremities but can also be found in hidden places like the scalp and bottom of the foot. Melanoma may arise within an existing mole or on a normal appearing area of the skin. They can rarely develop inside the body wherever melanocytes can be found, such as the back of the eye on the retina.
Who is affected by it?
I want you to know that melanoma does not discriminate, and it may affect anyone regardless of their age or race. The average age of diagnosis is 65 but it may be found in younger people under 30. This type of skin cancer is 20 times more common in Caucasians versus in Black and Hispanic communities. However, many patients with skin of color tend to be diagnosed later when their melanoma may be more advanced. The risk of melanoma is greater in someone who has a history of multiple severe sunburns or tanning bed use and those with a first degree relative with a history of melanoma.
How dangerous is it and what are the signs?
Melanoma can be dangerous and life threatening when it is found later, which means it has gone deeper in the skin and possibly started to spread beyond the skin’s surface. Although it accounts for about 1% of all skin cancers diagnosed in the US, melanoma causes most deaths from skin cancer. What makes melanoma so dangerous is that it can spread to the lymph nodes and other organs inside the body. It is estimated that one person dies of melanoma every hour each day.
A melanoma typically does not have any symptoms in the early stages, but if left untreated, it may grow and cause problems such as pain, bleeding, and ulcers. Signs of a melanoma can include an abnormal appearing mole or growth that has changed over time or a new lesion that doesn’t look like any of the other spots on the skin. I call this the “ugly duckling” sign. Although rare, some melanomas may look like warts or skin tags.
Signs to help you detect a melanoma are called the ABC’s of melanoma which are:
A normal mole should ideally be smaller than a pencil eraser with smooth edges and just one color. It should stay the same shape, size, and color over your lifetime. Melanomas don’t always follow these rules, so you should ask your doctor about it if you have a spot of concern.
How do you treat melanoma?
Most melanomas are cured by surgery where the site of the melanoma and a small margin of normal skin is excised, and then the skin is stitched together. However, if melanoma is thicker or has spread to other body sites, it may require additional treatments like removal of the lymph nodes, radiation, and chemotherapy. When melanomas are more advanced dermatologists may partner with other physicians such as a surgical oncologist, medical oncologist or radiation oncologist.
How do you prevent melanoma?
Melanoma prevention starts with sun protection. Ultraviolet exposure from the sun and radiation from tanning beds are the leading causes of damage that lead to melanoma. Therefore, it is very important to reduce the risk of sunburn and getting a tan when you are outdoors for extended periods of time.
Melanoma prevention tips:
I hope you find this information as part of your skin health journey. As an additional step of prevention and general care for your skin, I recommend booking a visit with a dermatologist in your area using Vaseline x HUED’s database HERE.
Skin is our largest organ. It plays a vital role in our overall health by functioning as a protective barrier between our bodies and harmful elements in the outside world, such as bacteria, viruses, yeast, parasites, pollution, and ultraviolet (UV) light damage. Any skin problem, whether a rash, growth, or disease process, affects your skin’s ability to function correctly and negatively impacts overall health, economic viability, social life, and self-esteem. It is important to remember that having healthy skin is a right, not a privilege.
The population of the United States is becoming increasingly diverse; however, diversity in the healthcare workforce does not mirror this demographic shift. The lack of diversity in our healthcare workforce is problematic at many levels. Insights have shown that having a doctor who looks like you can result in better communication, improved access and compliance with treatment, and ultimately a better outcome. While that isn’t always the option or necessary, it’s equally important that physicians understand the cultural differences needs of patients. When developing treatments to address the unique concerns of patients with skin of color, it’s also essential to have a diverse group of researchers that represent the audience. Lastly, clinical trials must include patients with skin of color to help provide invaluable information for the development of future treatments.
The skin of color and textured hair has unique characteristics that require the cultural competency of healthcare practitioner in skin and hair care practices for successful outcomes. Yet, according to a 2012 report, 47 % of dermatologists felt that their medical training didn’t adequately prepare them to treat melanin-rich skin, and a 2008 study found that only 12.2% of dermatology training programs had a rotation in which residents gained specific experience in treating patients with skin of color.
While there are several efforts to address the gaps of representation for skin of color, like Vaseline’s See My Skin, there is still work. For example, within the US, 12% of the population is African American, while only 3% of the board-certified dermatologists in the US are African American. In addition, for the Hispanic community, only 4.2% of dermatologists are of Hispanic origin compared with 16.3% in the general US population.
Having more Black and Hispanic Dermatologists is crucial; however, understanding specific cultural needs should be a must for all dermatologists and healthcare physicians. This begins with a commitment to recruit and retain minority academic faculty, confronting institutional racism, and providing leadership opportunities throughout the medical, educational system. While there is still work to be done, the ASDS (American Society of Dermatologic Surgery) has established a DEI workgroup and Rise Up Mentorship program to match current dermatology residents with practicing mentors who look like them.
This lack of diversity impacts every level of training, from having teachers in medical school that represent a diverse group of people – this includes advisors and mentors, who guide and supports the Dermatology residency application process and career trajectory. In addition, fewer dermatologists in positions of influence in the exam room, the lab, and the boardroom negatively impact the development and implementation of products and treatments to serve people of color.
While we know there is a lot of work to help close the gap in skin equity, how can you, as a patient, ensure you get the quality care you deserve?
Resources offered by Vaseline and HUED’s partnership allow people of color to connect with physicians trained to provide you with optimal care. Please visit the physician finder tool to search for a dermatologist near you. If you are in the North Carolina area, you can also book an appointment at my practice, Skin Wellness Dermatology. Once you have chosen a Dermatologist, consider using Vaseline’s guide to prepare you for your dermatologist visit.
Our skin is the largest organ we have, and it is so essential that we provide the best care for it. Some may experience irritation or other symptoms like itchiness, rashes, or scaly patches. Skin irritation can often result from different skin conditions, but one I want to highlight today is Eczema.
Eczema is a common condition in children and adults, so I have created a little cheat sheet to help provide more information on what it is, how to care for eczema-prone skin and a list of things to avoid.
Although eczema cannot be cured, it can be controlled. The mainstay of treatment is proper skincare with daily moisturization to restore and maintain the skin barrier. A tremendous moisturizing lotion is Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair is an excellent moisturizing lotion because it has a unique blend of humectants that help draw water into the skin. The formula includes micro-droplets of Vaseline Original Healing Jelly, which helps prevent water from evaporating by adding a protective layer of occlusion.
It is also important to avoid triggers when feasible. For more severe cases, patients may benefit from seeking medical advice and treatment from a licensed dermatologist or physician who can prescribe appropriate creams or medication based on their specific needs.
Coconut oil can help hydrate the skin, although I wouldn’t recommend it as a solo moisturizer. It is best to use virgin or cold-pressed formals free of irritants. This has antimicrobial properties, which help reduce the risk of bacterial infections. Another plant-based oil I would recommend that can be helpful to use for eczema is sunflower oil. It helps with the skin’s barrier function, increases hydration, and decreases inflammation. It is always best to apply these oils twice daily, one of those times being while the skill is still wet shortly after the shower.
As I shared above and can’t stress enough, always consult with a healthcare provider who has experience diagnosing and managing eczema. If the eczema flares are moderate to severe or very frequent despite implementing a regular bathing and moisturizing routine and using over-the-counter creams. In that case, a patient should consider seeing a dermatologist for medical treatment. A dermatologist and sometimes an allergist can help identify possible triggers by doing a series of critical allergy tests for trigger avoidance. Any signs of skin infection also warrant prompt evaluation, which can include increased redness, oozing, tenderness, and crusting.
The most effective way to add moisture to the skin is to moisturize immediately after a shower (usually within 3 minutes) to trap all the water in and seal the skin barrier. A great option would be the one I suggested above, the Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair, which was awarded the National Eczema Seal of Acceptance. This formula is unscented (this is important as fragrance is a common irritant), and it contains a unique blend of humectants and occlusives. Some people with more severe dryness or eczema can also benefit immensely from layering an ointment on top of the moisturizer lotion for extra protection of the skin barrier and hydration. An all-time favorite ointment is the Vaseline Original Healing Jelly. It is excellent because petrolatum is the most hypoallergenic ingredient; it is non-irritating and non-comedogenic.
We tend to think we need to try anything and everything to combat skin concerns we are facing but please DON’T. Instead, I recommend consulting a licensed dermatologist, but until that appointment, here are some DOs and DON’Ts to keep in mind.
Please note that this information is for educational purposes and awareness around Eczema. It should not be used as a formal diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms, I recommend using Vaseline x HUED’s derm finder tool to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist in your area HERE.
I believe that the uniqueness of melanin-rich skin lies in the variety of hues, traditions, and stories that it carries. The differences that make us unique are something that I celebrate and educate my patients about as a dermatologist and my daughters about as a mother. Cultural influences in how we care for our skin play a huge role in the routines that we have today, and that education often starts at home.
It is so important to understand our skin’s moisture barrier so that we can choose the right skincare to support & strengthen it. The stratum corneum (the top layer of our skin) is constantly balancing moisture & hydration, defense & protection, and this evolves as we age. Our job is to support it. Our understanding of ethnic and racial differences in the skin barrier that impact the skin is limited and ethnic and racial categories are often not well defined in studies but there are unique considerations in Black skin.
Dry skin & itch in Melanin-rich Skin| Dry skin and itch appear to impact Black patients more and there is a greater incidence and burden of disease with conditions like eczema (specifically Atopic Dermatitis). Generalized dry skin appears to be more common amongst Black patients in studies, and this is important to address because of the cultural stigma it has within our community. Dry skin can be more visible on the background of melanin-rich skin creating an appearance often referred to as ‘ashy skin’ and this is a common concern. Addressing dry skin and itch starts with gentle cleansing. Using a no-soap, milky, or lotion cleanser is one way to ensure that the cleansing process is as gentle as possible. How you cleanse, however, is also important. Avoiding use of harsh cleansing accessories like loofahs or scrubs and avoiding hot, lengthy showers can be helpful if you are dealing with dry and itchy skin. An important step after cleansing is to leave the skin damp so that your moisturizer can take advantage of the water left on the skin for a hydration boost.
Ceramides in Melanin-rich skin| Ceramides play an important role in skin hydration and skin barrier function. Studies have consistently shown that ceramide levels in Black skin are lower than that of other groups. Lower ceramide levels are often associated with decreased skin hydration and increased dryness. Consistent moisturization and selection of the right moisturizer can be impactful for these changes. Moisturizers come in various types (emollients, humectants, occlusives, etc) and various consistencies (creams, lotions, butter, etc) see Moisturizers for Various Skin Types for an explanation of types of moisturizers. For those with dry skin, I recommend applying an emollient moisturizer such as Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Lotion to damp skin. This lotion is unscented and features lipids, humectant glycerin, as well as microdroplets of Vaseline to heal extra dry skin in as little as 5 days. Vaseline Intensive Care Eczema Calming Cream is a great option for those prone to dryness, itch, and eczema because it also has 1% colloidal oatmeal, an ingredient that has consistently been shown to help reduce itch and irritation on the skin. Adding a layer of Vaseline Original Healing Jelly to areas that are very more vulnerable to dryness such as the elbows, knees, and ankles is a nice bonus because the occlusive nature of the jelly will help to prevent the skin form losing hydration in these areas.
Understanding and celebrating the uniqueness of our skin and knowing how to care for it can be incredibly empowering especially when that knowledge is shared through generations. When selecting skin care for you skin, remember to consider the gentle cleansing and moisturizing tips above to help support your skin’s moisture barrier.
Reference : PMID: 34491028