Acne Treatments in darker skin types

Acne Treatments in ethnic skin at a glance

  • Best Results4-16 weeks
  • Treatment RecoveryNil
  • Procedure TimeNA
  • Skin SpecialistMedical dermatologist, nurse
  • Duration of ResultsRemission in >60%
  • AnaestheticNA
  • Back to WorkNA
  • Cost$

Acne Treatments in darker skin types

Acne treatment in darker skin types such as Asians & Middle Eastern patients are different compared to treating Caucasian acne. Darker skin types tend to scar more easily, and acne can be associated with skin changes, including darkening of the skin- also known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. The dermatologists at Cutis Dermatology in Brisbane are experts in the management of acne in darker skin patients.

FactsFacts on Acne Treatments in darker skin types

  • Acne scarring is more common in Asians & darker skin races
  • Darkening of the skin is commonly with acne in these patients
  • Early treatment of acne will prevent scarring and skin darkening
  • Acne occurs in all races
  • Darkening of the skin can be improved with lasers
  • The use of sunscreen on a daily basis is very important and forms the basis of acne scar treatments in darker skin patients

Acne Treatments

What is the difference between Acne Treatments in darker skin patients?

Darker skin patients such as Asian or Middle Eastern have a harder time dealing with acne and acne scarring compared to Caucasian patients. There are several reasons why treating acne earlier and with more powerful medications may be appropriate.

Firstly, scarring can be more profound in Asian & ethnic patients, especially keloid scarring.

Secondly, colour changes such as darkening of the skin (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation) is more commonly seen with acne. If post inflammatory changes occur, it may take many months before it settles down. Prevention of scars & colour changes is very important.

Why is sunscreen use important in the management of acne in dark skin patients?


Sunscreen is especially important in the treatment of acne in darker skin types. UV exposure can stimulate pigmentation, known as post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Dark acne scars can occur as a result. It is important to use a high factor non-greasy sunscreen on a daily basis, as part of your skin care treatment. Preventing scarring is very important.

The Specialist choice of sunscreen is La Roche Posay, as this provides maximal UV protection and is not acne forming. Another option is Invisible Zinc.

What treatments are available to treat acne in Asian and dark skin patients?

The same types of treatments apply to treating darker skin types as treating Caucasian patients. Depending on the severity of your acne, your specialist may elect to use creams, tablets, chemical peels, or prescription washes. We would always recommend that you use a sunscreen on a daily basis to prevent darkening of your acne lesions.

In some cases they may elected to use a higher-grade acne treatment such as Roaccutane to prevent scarring.

In more severe cases they may recommend treatments such as Tixel , Pico & vascular lasers to treat early acne scars.

What can be done for acne scarring in darker skin patients?

Treating acne scarring in darker skin patients can be difficult due to the risks of scarring & skin colour changes can occur. The treatments we perform are dependent on not only the type of acne scars, but also the skin colour of the patient. In general we go slower & less aggressive in scar treatments compared to lighter skin patients.

For example, a fair skin acne scar patient may only need one or two laser treatments, however a darker skin patient may require an additional one to two treatments to achieve the very same results. Darker skin patients are suited for the Erbium laser or low density CO2 resurfacing. I also use micro needling & RF Microneedling, pico laser along with surgical subcision.

Another example is TCA CROSS, in darker skin patients, we use a different technique, a lower concentration, and a different time interval compared to treating fairer skin patients.

Davin’s Perspective on treating acne & scarring in darker skin patients

Treating acne and acne scarring in Asian and ethnic skin requires a different approach. Treatment of acne is more aggressive, and this can reduce the incidence of scarring & post- acne pigmentation changes. The reverse applies to acne scars, in this case a more conservative approach is needed to prevent scarring and post treatment colour changes.

The use of a high factor SPF sunscreen is paramount in both cases of acne treatment and acne scar management. This forms the basis of reducing post inflammatory skin changes.

Acne scar management can be challenging. In treating darker skin acne scar patients, we have to carefully match the skin colour of the patient, the acne scar type and the down time to give patients a safe but noticeable improvement in acne scars. TCA CROSS concentrations are lower, and my fractional laser treatments are more conservative with less overlap. For fractional laser, I usually use both Erbium & CO2 lasers. Fraxel is a waste of time (in the context of acne scars), as treatments such as Infini or Genius RF delivers better results with less downtime & costs.

co2 laser acne scarring
Short PD lasers are preferred over CO2 Fraxel RePair for cases like this. Middle East Patient.

We can achieve very similar results with lasers and chemical peels in ethnic patients compared with fairer skin types, however extra treatments are needed on the side of safety.

Disclaimer: I DO NOT treat acne, my work is entirely procedural. If you have acne, please see my medical colleagues at Cutis Dermatology.

Phenol & TCA focally can cause PIH or pigment within the scars. Pigment will fade in 4-10 weeks.


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