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20-01-2011 | Article

Skin color affects acne prevalence


Free abstract

MedWire News: Acne appears to be most prevalent in darker-skinned women, suggests a study looking at ethnic differences in this common skin disease.

"Characterizing the prevalence and characteristics of acne in different skin types is important for patient care and may have an impact on the selection of skin-type tailored treatment," say Alexandra Kimball, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, USA, and team.

They found that African-American women had the highest prevalence of acne, compared with Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, and Continental Indian women, and were the most likely to experience hyperpigmentation, dyspigmentation, and scarring as a result of their acne.

The researchers used photography to study the acne of 2895 women aged from 10-70 years. The group consisted of 384 African-American, 520 Asian, 1295 Caucasian, 258 Hispanic, and 438 Continental Indian women.

Clinical acne was most common among African-American and Hispanic women, affecting 37% and 32%, respectively, and least common in Continental Indian and Caucasian women, affecting a corresponding 23% and 24%.

The frequency of inflammatory acne (pustular) versus blackheads and whiteheads was equal among the racial groups, with the exception of Asian women, who were more likely to have inflammatory acne, and Caucasian women who were more likely to have blackheads and whiteheads.

African-American women were also the most affected by their acne with regard to dyspigmentation and scarring. In all, 80% experienced hyper- or hypopigmentation while 34% experienced scarring. This compared with just a respective 11% and 7% of Continental Indian women.

Kimball and team comment in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology that their findings suggest that acne is a more "heterogenous condition than previously described."

They also highlight the importance of taking racial differences in skin type into consideration when tailoring treatments for acne in order to prevent its negative effects.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Lucy Piper