African-Americans can be afflicted with the same skin conditions as Caucasians, but there are certain skin afflictions that are unique to this race. Melanin is skin pigment, which African-Americans have more of it than lighter-skinned people. The melanin accounts for the darker color of their skin and affords them more protection from the sun; however, African-Americans are not exempt from several types of skin problems, including rashes.
Melasma is a skin disorder that affects people with brown skin. Irregular gray-brown marks appear on the facial skin, including the nose, forehead, cheeks, chin and upper lips. Melasma is extremely common in brown-skinned women who are 21 to 40 years old. It sometimes shows up during pregnancy -- it's often referred to as the mask of pregnancy -- and it can also occur when a woman is taking oral contraceptives.
Acne vulgaris is a skin condition that afflicts many African-Americans, and others who have brown skin. It results in patches and dark spots, which pop up when an acne breakout occurs. This condition can lead to permanent scarring and skin discoloration.
A common skin disease in African-Americans is eczema, which can lead to hyper-pigmentation or hypo-pigmentation in people of color. Eczema may be an inherited condition. It is referred to as atopic dermatitis. Eczema results in blistered, raw, red bumps that burn and itch. The skin can crack and thicken. The blisters can ooze pus. In chronic cases, thick, dark patches with prominent lines appear.
African-American women and other brown-skinned women are often afflicted with seborrheic dermatitis, which affects the scalp, the hairline, the eyebrows and the area between the corners of the mouth and the nose. Sometimes, the neck and chest are affected. Greasy, thick, yellow flakes can appear. The flakes can also be fine and white.
Scalp ringworm, or tinea capitis, results in scaling and patchy hair loss, making the scalp look moth-eaten.
Psoriasis is a skin condition that is very common among all races and ethnic groups. This condition is not contagious. It causes skin cells to rapidly reproduce and this causes dry, red and thickened skin.
Pityriasis alba is a condition that afflicts African-American children and causes light patches that are round and scaly in texture to appear on the child’s arms and face. Doctors consider this condition to be a mild form of eczema.
African-Americans who have lupus are more likely to suffer from discord lupus, which results in red skin patches and scaliness and can result in scarring. The scales and patches generally crop up on the scalp, and can lead to hair loss and skin rashes on the face.