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AAD Looks at Treatments for Conditions Targeting Those with Darker Skin Tones

Posted: September 30, 2009

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Another skin condition that affects people of color, and especially African-Americans, is ashy dermatosis. While the cause of ashy dermatosis is unknown, it usually starts as a flat, dark grayish-brown rash that appears bi-laterally, or on both sides of body, such as both arms or both legs.

Ashy dermatosis closely resembles a condition known as fixed drug eruption, which causes the same type of pigmentation problem and is the result of an allergy to a food, medication or workplace trigger. For example, one of Dr. Breadon’s patients with this type of rash noticed a flare when she would consume a particular sugar substitute, which was eventually identified as the trigger.

“Based on my evaluation of numerous cases of ashy dermatosis and fixed drug eruption, my theory is that these two conditions are actually one in the same,” said Dr. Breadon. “That’s why I think it is so important to identify the trigger, as this can help alleviate the rash and prevent its spread. I encourage my patients to keep a food diary or a list of any medications or items with which they come into contact to see if we can identify the source of the problem.”

Dr. Breadon noted that ashy dermatosis and fixed drug eruption can be very difficult to treat. A compound lotion of salicylic acid, a mid-potency steroid and hydroquinone can offer gradual clearing. Regular use of sunscreen with a high SPF also is highly recommended to avoid further hyperpigmentation.

“It is important for people with darker skin to be aware of any changes in their skin and to see a dermatologist at the first sign of anything unusual,” said Dr. Breadon. “Dermatologists not only can diagnose and provide the best treatment options for a particular pigmentation problem, but also can rule out a serious condition, such as skin cancer.”