Treatment Options for Black People with Acne: Expert Tips and Products

Feb 01, 2024 By Madison Evans

Acne is a common skin condition that affects people of all ages and ethnicities. However, when it comes to treating acne in black individuals, there are some unique considerations to remember. In this article, we will discuss the best treatment for acne for black skin.

Types of acne on black skin

Acne is a common skin condition that affects people of all ages and ethnicities. However, the types of acne on black skin may differ from those on other skin tones due to differences in melanin production and structure.

The most common types of acne on black skin include comedonal acne, inflammatory acne, cystic acne, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Comedonal acne consists of whiteheads and blackheads caused by clogged pores.

Inflammatory acne includes papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts which are red or pus-filled bumps often caused by bacteria. Cystic acne is a severe form of inflammatory acne that can lead to scarring if left untreated.

Lastly, PIH occurs when dark spots remain after an inflamed blemish has healed. It's important for individuals with black skin to understand these different types of acne in order to properly treat their specific concerns.

Topical Treatments

Acne is a common skin condition that affects people of all skin types, including black skin. When it comes to treating acne, various topical treatments are available, such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and retinoids. These treatments can help to reduce inflammation, unclog pores, and promote skin cell turnover.

However, it is essential to note that black skin has unique characteristics and may require special considerations regarding acne treatment. Black skin tends to have more melanin, making it more prone to hyperpigmentation and scarring. Therefore, choosing products specifically formulated for black skin is crucial to avoid potential side effects.

Benzoyl Peroxide

One commonly used topical treatment for acne is benzoyl peroxide. It works by killing the bacteria that cause acne and reducing inflammation. However, benzoyl peroxide can dry and irritate some individuals, especially those with sensitive skin.

When using benzoyl peroxide on black skin, starting with a lower concentration and gradually increasing if needed while monitoring for potential side effects is recommended.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid helps to exfoliate the skin, unclog pores, and reduce inflammation. Like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid can be drying and may irritate. Choosing a gentle and non-drying formulation specifically designed for black skin is essential.


Retinoids, including prescription-strength tretinoin and over-the-counter retinol, are known for their effectiveness in treating acne. They work by increasing cell turnover, unclogging pores, and reducing inflammation.

However, retinoids can also cause dryness, redness, and sensitivity. It is crucial to start with a low concentration and gradually increase as tolerated. Additionally, using a moisturizer and sunscreen when using retinoids is essential to minimize potential side effects.

Oral Medications

Acne is a common skin condition affecting people of all skin types, including black skin. Several oral medications are commonly prescribed when treating acne, including antibiotics, hormonal therapies, and isotretinoin. Each substance has its potential benefits and risks that should be considered.


Antibiotics are often prescribed to treat moderate to severe acne. They work by reducing the amount of bacteria on the skin and reducing inflammation. Commonly prescribed antibiotics for acne include tetracycline, erythromycin, and doxycycline.

The benefits of antibiotics include reducing acne lesions and preventing new ones from forming. However, long-term use of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance and may have side effects such as upset stomach, dizziness, and increased sensitivity to sunlight.


Isotretinoin, commonly known as Accutane, is a potent oral medication for severe cases of acne that have not responded to other treatments. Isotretinoin works by reducing sebum production and shrinking oil glands. It is highly effective in clearing acne but also has potential risks and side effects.

Isotretinoin can cause congenital disabilities if taken during pregnancy, so strict precautions must be taken to prevent pregnancy while on this medication. Other potential side effects include dry skin and eyes, joint and muscle pain, and an increased risk of depression and suicidal thoughts.

Professional Treatments

Acne can be a frustrating and confidence-damaging condition, particularly for those with black skin. However, there are various professional treatments available that can effectively address acne and its associated concerns. Three commonly used treatments for acne in black skin are chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and laser therapy.

Chemical peels

Chemical peels involve the application of a chemical solution to the skin, which exfoliates the outermost layer and encourages cell turnover. This treatment can help reduce acne by unclogging pores, reducing inflammation, and improving the appearance of acne scars.

It is essential to consult a professional specializing in black skin to ensure the peel is tailored to address specific concerns and minimize the risk of hyperpigmentation.


Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive treatment that uses tiny crystals to remove the outer layer of dead skin cells. This process helps unclog pores and stimulate collagen production, leading to a smoother skin tone. Microdermabrasion can be an effective treatment for mild to moderate acne and improve the appearance of acne scars.

Laser therapy

Laser therapy, such as intense pulsed light (IPL) or fractional laser resurfacing, can provide effective results for severe or persistent acne in black skin. These treatments target the bacteria responsible for acne, reduce inflammation, and stimulate collagen production. Laser therapy can also help fade acne scars and improve skin texture.


While dealing with acne can be frustrating at times, regardless of your ethnicity or race, those with darker complexions often face additional challenges when it comes to finding effective treatment options.

It's essential to consult with a dermatologist specializing in treating black skin and work together to find the best solution for your needs. With patience, consistency, and proper care, acne on black skin can be effectively managed and treated.