Skin diseases in pigmented skins

The pigmented skin is very different from the Caucasian skin, according to Dr. F. Hamerlinck. This involves yellow as well as black skin. Therefore, it is a shame that until now the cosmetic and the pharmaceutical industry, because of economic reasons, have almost exclusively focused on the white skin.

After becoming a dermatologist, Dr. Hamerlinck started his practice in Amsterdam-Zuidoost, where he was confronted with a patient population he had learned little about. The majority of his patients (or their ancestors) where from other regions in the world. And most of them had pigmented skin. This allowed Dr. Hamerlinck to investigate an area in the dermatological field, which had never before been investigated.

Dr. Hamerlinck has defined six different skin types. These are the Negroid, the Latin American, the East Asian (from the Eskimos in the north to the Malaysian types at the equator, including the Chinese and the American Indians), the South Asian (Pakistan and India), the Persian (Turkey, Morocco, Iran, etc.) and the Caucasian skin. The main difference between the different skin types is their permeability for fluid, in and out of the skin. This is caused by physiological and biochemical differences and results in the fact that the presentation of skin disease is different in every single skin type.

Roughly speaking, black skin is more compact and stronger than other skin types. Black skin also suffers from allergies less frequently. But when it does, it is more severe than in other skin types. However, the reason for this difference is yet unknown.

In this climate the pigmented skin loses more fluid compared to the white skin, which has adjusted itself to the climate over the past centuries. Using Vaseline or a paraffin-containing product to battle dry skin only makes things worse, because the skin is shut off from the outside and cannot breathe. Instead, people with pigmented skin should use a product containing wax and an emulsifying agent, to properly allow fluid to be absorbed.

It is unnecessary to buy cosmetic products, says Dr. Hamerlinck. Black people have beautiful, soft skin. Only vegetal oils should be used to soften the skin perhaps. The more you put on your skin, the greater the risk of developing skin problems.

Good products are available to treat the different sorts of eczema. Sadly however, these products and many cosmetic products contain propylene glycerol, which is unsuitable for pigmented skin, causing irritation and black spots.

In the future, Dr. Hamerlinck will keep focusing on the pigmented skin and write down his knowledge. Also he hopes he will be able to gain more foothold within the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry for the development of medicines and cosmetic products better adapted to the pigmented skin.