BIPOC Voices, Education, Physical Health, Wellness / Self-Care

The condition on Black/Brown Skin that is often misdiagnosed

Trust me, you’re gonna wanna read this.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Aug 9, 2021

The disparities in healthcare for people of color is not a new trend. For centuries people of color have not gotten the same treatment, respect and are often ignored when we express our concerns or symptoms. Rosacea, one of the most common skin conditions on Black and Brown skin, is too often misdiagnosed. This chronic skin condition can be uncomfortable and at times, debilitating.


According to the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, up to 40 million people of color suffer from rosacea. So why on earth is it still misdiagnosed on colored skin? And more importantly, what prevention tactics are there and what needs to be implemented to treat these patients?


What is Rosacea?

A chronic skin condition, rosacea is an inflammatory disease that produces redness, itching and texture issues. Generally speaking, it starts with warm flushed cheeks that turn into permanent redness around the cheeks and nose. Essentially the oil glands become inflamed and cause spots and papules making the skin swell.  Some patients might have dryness, spots and dilated blood vessels. It can be more intense with stress, sunlight, spicy food and alcohol.


Why the misdiagnosis?

The lighter you are in color, the more visible your blood vessels and redness will be, which is why it’s so hard to see on darker skin tones. On darker complexions, rosacea could easily be mistaken for other skin conditions like acne, leading to confusion and incorrect treatment. The problematic aspect of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis is if the symptoms are more severe, there is a higher risk of hyperpigmentation or changes to the skin’s texture.


What to look for

So how do you know if you have rosacea?


Some of the most common symptoms are sensitive skin, dryness, oiliness, or stinging. However, if you have darker skin, you won’t always look red or flushed, more times than not, you’ll have violet under tones, pigmented skin and discoloration. Again, as rosacea is an inflammatory disease you might also notice swelling on the face.


If you think you have rosacea, consult a dermatologist before trying to treat it yourself. A new product or regimen can cause irritation and can bring a lot of trail and error. Of course, if you do not have access to a healthcare professional, you can always patch test the treatment or cream on a different part of your body and wait a few days to see if you react before applying it on the affected areas.


How to treat Rosacea

It depends on the severity of the rosacea but most treatments include lifestyle changes, and prescription and/or over-the-counter ointments. Experts recommend adapting a soothing and moisturizing skincare routine: products with amino acids will help protect and calm down irritated skin while rebuilding some of the damage. You’ll also want to pick up formulas made with anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe vera to repair post flare-up and improve appearance. And as always, wear sunscreen. Dermatologists recommend physical sunscreens (active ingredients that deflect the sun’s UV rays away from skin) over chemical ones.


If you experience rosacea or any other skin condition, it’s of utmost importance to keep your skin hydrated and moisturized.


Photo via Ceylon Skincare