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Rosacea is a common inflammatory skin condition, affecting 16 million Americans. However, there's room for improvement when diagnosing rosacea on Black skin, so the actual number may be even higher. Read on to learn more about what rosacea looks like on darker skin tones and how to achieve skin that looks and feels healthy, calm, and radiant.


The Trouble with Misdiagnosis

Despite the misperception that people with darker skin tones don't experience rosacea, roughly 40 million people of color grapple with rosacea worldwide. And there's still a wide gap for unidentified or misdiagnosed cases. This may be due to several factors, including a lower index of suspicion for rosacea, lack of educational resources about what rosacea looks like on Black skin, and overlooking or misidentifying signs for other, more common skin conditions in people of color.

It can also be more difficult to identify early signs of rosacea, such as erythema (redness) and telangiectasia (small, widened blood vessels), in people with darker skin tones due to increased melanin.

Misdiagnosis can lead to incorrect treatment, which can exacerbate the condition. For example, without the apparent redness, rosacea may be confused with acne or dermatitis due to bumps, breakouts, blistering, and cracked skin. Without proper treatment, rosacea can lead to skin thickening or hyperpigmentation, a pervasive skin disorder in people of color.


Black man admiring clear skin in mirror


How to Identify Rosacea on Black Skin

There are four types of rosacea. The most common is erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (ETR), often characterized by chronic redness and enlarged blood vessels. Environmental and lifestyle factors, such as sun exposure and stress, can trigger ETR. The second most common form is papulopustular rosacea, which is often mistaken for acne due to inflamed bumps, pimples, whiteheads, and redness.

While most rosacea symptoms are relatively consistent regardless of skin color, detecting redness in Black and brown skin can be challenging, especially if you have post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.


Signs of Rosacea on Black Skin

Contact your Dermatologist if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Dusky brown discoloration
  • Dark, dry patches of skin
  • Swelling or thickened skin on the forehead, cheeks, nose, or chin
  • Skin that feels warm to the touch
  • Breakouts that resemble acne but aren't clearing up with treatment
  • Hard yellowish or brown bumps that pop up around the mouth or eyes
  • Burning or stinging when applying certain skin care products

Rosacea Treatment for Black Skin

Rosacea treatment for Black skin is similar to treatment for people with lighter skin tones, including avoiding triggers like spicy foods, extreme temperatures, excessive sun exposure, stress, and alcohol. However, because darker skin is more susceptible to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (one of the top five most commonly diagnosed skin conditions in people of color), keep a few extra precautions in mind.


Wear Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen Every Day

Applying broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher daily is key to any healthy skin routine, regardless of skin tone, type, or condition. Sun exposure is responsible for 90 percent of the visible signs of premature skin aging, and it accelerates cutaneous (skin-related) changes associated with rosacea.

Some physical sunscreens can leave behind an unsightly white residue on Black or brown skin, so opt for a chemical formula, hybrid formula, or tinted physical sunscreen for smooth, seamless coverage. Finding a sunscreen that works well with your skin can make a world of difference.


Adopt a Gentle Skin Care Routine

While some cases of rosacea require prescription medication, the foundation of any treatment is a solid skin care routine without fragrance, astringents, alcohol, menthol, and abrasive exfoliants. Here are some other tips.


Opt for a Gentle Cleanser

Avoid soap-based alkaline cleansers, which raise your skin's pH and may impair skin barrier function. Instead, wash your face twice daily with a gentle cleanser like PCA SKIN Daily Cleansing Oil. It's suitable for all skin types and dissolves dirt, oil, makeup, and impurities while leaving the skin soft and hydrated.


Consider Niacinamide

One of the top ingredients for rosacea is Niacinamide, which calms inflammation, supports the skin barrier, and evens skin tone. Try a formula like PCA SKIN Dual Action Redness Relief. Even if redness isn't a concern for you, this serum is formulated with Niacinamide, Dimethyl Sulfone, and Silybum Marianum Fruit Extract to calm skin, reduce sensitivity, and increase hydration on contact. PCA's time-released OmniSome™ delivery system helps deliver these ingredients to your skin's deeper layers over 10 hours for long-lasting effects.


Hydrate Your Skin

Daily hydration is vital for rosacea-prone skin. PCA SKIN HydraBright is a results-driven daily moisturizer suitable for sensitive, rosacea-prone skin. Niacinamide, Squalane, Biostable Gallic Acid, and Smart Melanin Microalgae help brighten, hydrate, smooth, and soothe the skin in just 21 days.


Consider Laser Treatments for Dark Skin

Laser treatments may not be the first thing that comes to mind for treating rosacea. Still, many experts agree Nd: YAG laser technology is one of the safest options for darker skin tones. This therapy creates wavelengths that penetrate deep into the skin without disrupting melanin or damaging the top layer of skin.


Skin You Can Feel Good In

Rosacea on Black skin can be challenging to diagnose, but it doesn't have to be difficult to treat. If you're still unsure which products to use or how to manage your symptoms, contact a PCA SKIN professional. They can assess your unique needs and put you on the path to your best skin so you can feel like your most comfortable, confident self.


Rebecca Taras
A Chicagoland native, Rebecca began her career catering to celebrity clientele as a licensed esthetician at the Peninsula Chicago Hotel. Her passion for skin care ingredients, formulations, and skin histology led her to create custom in-room skin, bath, and body amenities for the Sofitel Hotel Chicago. The Chicago Fashion Foundation recognized her efforts with the Style Maker, Rule Breaker award in the Beauty category. She later went on to co-found Terminal Getaway airport spas. Rebecca’s experience also includes serving as an editor for digital outlets such as Refinery29, PopSugar, Forbes Travel Guides, and Bustle. She continues to refine her skin care knowledge while spending time traveling the world with her husband.