Skin, Hair & Nails

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Skin, Hair & Nails Guide

Rosa Cabrera RN

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Ethnic skin is a term used to describe skin types that include, but are not limited to African Americans, Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, Mediterraneans and other people of mixed ethnicities.

In 2008, Al Roker from the Today show ran a special that specifically addressed issues of ethnic skin (see video link #1 in source list). What the show pointed out is that people with skin of color have special situations that may need additional attention. The show also discussed that we are living in a society of more mixed nationalities, so there is an increased need for health practitioners to focus on these differences.

Why some skin is browner than others?

The amount of melanin in one’s skin determines how much brown pigment it has. Everyone’s skin produces melanin in the outer layer of the skin called the epidermis from melanocytes. While everyone has the same number of melanocytes, people of color produce more melanin than Caucasians.

Additionally, there is a wide variety in the amount of extra melanin people of color produce, so some skin appears warm brown while others have a deeper chocolate-type tone. According to Dr. Susan C.Taylor, there are “an estimated thirty-five shades among women of African descent.” (womenshealth)

Some benefits that those with ethnic skin have are that their skin looks younger and they have less sagging and wrinkles. For instance, it was reported in the Today show special that those with darker skin can appear as much as 10 years younger than their Caucasian counterparts. This is because melanin offers protection from the damaging rays of the sun.

At the same time, people with ethnic skin have a greater incidence of some of the skin problems below:

--Pigmentation issues: both hypo- and hyper-pigmentation spots, melasma, vitiligo and other postinflammatory pigmentations create darker spots after acne has healed.

--Scarring: people of color tend to show more thickened skin scars called keloids.

--Skin cancer: while people of color have less risk of getting skin cancer, they have a much greater risk of dying from it.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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