Hyperkeratosis can be an embarrassing problem for women with black or brown colored skin. Thickened, rough palms and darkened elbows can cause embarrassment and rough bumps on the arms and legs (known as keratosis pilaris) can be unsightly. Eczema, another type of hyperkeratosis, can be uncomfortable and painful. Due to the reactive and unpredictable nature of melanin, which is the chemical responsible for the coloration of the skin, people with black skin will react differently to skin treatments and may experience more severe occurrences of skin disorders such as hyperkeratosis.
The good news is that these forms of hyperkeratosis respond to creams and lotions, which are readily available at the pharmacy or by prescription. Nonetheless, people with black skin can experience detrimental side effects when using chemical treatments to overcome problems associated with hyperkeratosis and it is recommended that you seek medical advice before applying chemicals to your skin. Take care when treating dark patches of hyperkeratosis with skin lightening products, as these can cause hypo-pigmentation (a condition that causes the skin to become white).
Keratosis pilaris is a form of hyperkeratosis that is characterised by hard bumps that cover the hair follicles. This can affect areas such as the backs of the arms, upper legs and buttocks among other areas. Keratosis pilaris may look different on people with dark skin tone. On many black, Hispanic, Asian and dark skinned people this form of hyperkeratosis resembles thousands of small black heads or dark blemishes on the skin. People with black skin should be careful when using particular treatments to overcome keratosis pilaris. Some treatments can lead to hypo-pigmentation (discoloration of the skin tone) when used on dark skin. Use treatments sparingly. Natural remedies include taking flaxseed oil and omega-3. Aloe vera may also help as a natural remedy for keratosis pilaris.
Eczema is also a type of hyperkeratosis caused by skin irritation due to allergic reactions, irritating chemicals and other factors. Eczema is identified by tiny blisters, redness and itchiness. People with dark skin can prevent this form of hyperkeratosis by avoiding products that may cause irritation such as fragrance, alcohol, propylene glycol, dye and lanolin.
Hyperkeratosis and other skin problems can be prevented by keeping the skin hydrated. Cleanse gently and moisturize. Harsh exfoliation, cleansing too roughly and some microdermabrasion and chemical peels can have detrimental effects on your skin. Using a gentle loofah will exfoliate your skin and can be particularly effective when used in combination with natural skin care products. Remember that the aim is to hydrate your skin, slough away dead skin cells and avoid irritation. Natural products such as aloe vera and tea tree oil can be effective in the prevention of hyperkeratosis.