Recognising skin conditions on different skin tones


Author: The Editor

1 Dec, 2022

With many skin conditions, the impacts to the individual can vary greatly depending on their skin tone. Representing skin diseases on various skin tones, especially in a country as diverse as the Cayman Islands is vital to ensure that every person receives the appropriate and relevant care.

The current problem at hand is that traditionally the imagery represented in various articles and throughout dermatology literature, mainly showcases how dermatological conditions look on white individuals, which can cause those with darker skin to dismiss a possible skin disease on the fact that it looks different.

In this short article, we aim to explore the most common skin conditions and to then break down the most common skin tones for dark skin. Links to the AAD are provided which offer imagery these conditions on darker skin tones to showcase how certain conditions can appear differently.

Most popular skin conditions in the USA by number reported by the AAD:

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  • Acne – impacts 50 million
  • Atopic dermatitis – 1 in 10 will experience this skin condition at some point
  • Hair loss – impacts around 80 million and includes hair thinning or baldness due to hereditary reasons
  • Psoriasis – around 7 million, mostly impacting adults aged 45-64
  • Rosacea – 16 million and most common for those between 30-60 who have lighter complexions, blond hair and blue eyes
  • Skin cancer – most common cancer in the US with 9,500 diagnoses each day, greater probability of Caucasian men over 50 developing skin cancers such as melanoma
  • Most common skin conditions in darker skin tones reported by the AAD

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  • Acanthosis nigricans – can thicken or darken skin on your armpits, neck or groin. The skin condition itself is will not cause harm but developing this skin disease can be a warning sign of conditions such as diabetes
  • Acne keloidalis nuchae – feels like razor bumps or acne on the back of your neck or on your scalp. It occurs the most in Black men around the ages of 14-25 years old
  • Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) – deep painful lumps under the skin – can be mistaken for acne, STD or boils
  • Keloids – type of scarring that is significantly larger than the initial wound that brought about the scar. Findings have conclusion that Black people are the race most likely to develop keloids
  • Lupus and your skin – lupus includes a host of diseases that can cause inflammation on different areas of your body including your skin (cutaneous (skin) lupus). It can cause rashes, scaly patching or flareups that appear to look like a sunburn
  • Melanoma – For melanoma, the probability of a Caucasian developing melanoma on their foot is the same for African Americans, thus this skin conditon quite popular regardless of skin tone. However, black people are reported to have a higher proportion of being diagnosed with skin cancer under their nails
  • Sarcoidosis and your skin – in the US, African American women are the most at risk for being diagnosed with this skin condition
  • Seborrheic dermatitis – on lighter complexions, this condition looks like red rash but on darker skin tones, this colour of the rash can appear as pink, purple or white
  • Vitiligo – skin conditions where an individual may lose some of their natural pigmentation. This is more noticeable in darker skin tones
  • At Integra, we have two highly experienced adult and paediatric dermatologists. In particular our specialist dermatologist Dr Alison Duncan has a considerable amount of experience with skin issues related to darker skin pigments. It is evident that the frequency of certain dermatological conditions can truly depend on an individual’s skin tone. Therefore, if something does not feel right, we encourage you to get in touch here.


    Dr Alison Duncan

    Specialist Dermatologist
    Tel: +1 (345) 745 7450 (clinic)
    Email: [email protected]

    Dr Alison Duncan is a highly experienced dermatologist with more than 12 years at consultant-level, including 7 years at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, a highly respected university service.


    • Adult & Paediatric Dermatology
    • Skin Cancer Screening & Management
    • Allergic, Autoimmune & Other Skin Conditions
    • Procedures, Biopsies & Cryotherapy
    • Genital or Vulval Skin Conditions

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    Clinic Location & Open Times

    The Grand Pavilion Commercial Centre, Hibiscus Way, 802 West Bay Road.

    • Monday to Friday: 8.30am first appointment, 4.30pm last appointment
    • Saturday: 8.30am first appointment, 12.30pm last appointment

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