In "Passenger 57," Wesley Snipes says to "Always bet on black." For those with black skin, one can wager they might be prone to the following skin issues:

Acting cheek to cheek

    Academy award winner Morgan Freeman is just one of the many dark-skinned dudes dogged by dermatosis papulosa nigra (DPN's). People of color can develop these small dark facial bumps, usually on the cheeks. The lesions are benign, not at risk for turning into skin cancer. Lasers and electrocautery can make them vanish.

The problem with a close shave...

 Wesley Snipes

 Ving Rhames

 Danny Glover





Snipes, Rhames, Glover. Three African American actors with active roles in action adventures. Their cheeks show a lot of activity too. What you call shaving bumps or razor bumps, doctors (with extra time on their hands) call pseudofolliculitis barbae or PFB, a name with more syllables than are usually uttered in a summer action flick. This very common problem is due to the close shaving of curly hairs. The short-cropped hairs delve back under skin, creating an inflammatory, pimple-like reaction. Occasionally, small scars occur. Management includes not shaving closely (promoting light beard growth), and use of Retin-A creams to promote open pores. For severe inflammation, antibiotics topically and by mouth are of great temporary benefit. And for longer lasting benefit, shooting at movie bad guys and spectacular chase scenes can also relieve tension.

Why does Rhames prefer to hide the back of his neck...

...Much like it was covered with a big band aid in "Pulp Fiction?"

In Rhames' "Baby Boy," at least one movie mystery is solved.

In "Dawn of the Dead" the zombies are back, with skin even the undead dread. This time bravely bald actor Ving Rhames takes on a shopping mall full of ghouls. It Dawned on us that while Rhames is saving his own neck, he also strives to hide the back of it. In "Dawn," he uses a stylish kerchief, while in the neo-noir "Pulp Fiction," an uber adhesive covered the base of his scalp. He let his guard down in the gangsta drama, "Baby Boy." A large, thick scar, surrounded by small ingrown hair bumps confirms a condition called (brace yourselves!): acne keloidalis nuchae, aka AKN. Seen almost exclusively in black men, AKN starts with pimply spots on the back of the neck which then form raised keloid scars. While some patients respond to acne treatments like antibiotics and retin-A creams, others turn to surgery to cut out pesky pores, like Rhames appears to have done. Unfortunately, with the new dawn, AKN can recur, even after surgery. With odds like that, Rhames probably finds zapping zombies EZ.

Vanessa Williams, Will Smith, Don Cheadle and the agony of acne

No one wants adult acne. But those with dark skin tones have added angst. Commonly, when the inflamed pimples clear, a light or dark discoloration persists. In short, treated zits are replaced by stubborn spots. Though not a form of scarring, the dark patches can take months to fade. Presumably, acne role models Vanessa Williams, Will Smith, and Don Cheadle know all about this medical dilemma. Fortunately, there are a few over-the-counter and prescription fade creams which effectively even the epidermal tone. Even more important, ingredients like trentinoin, hydroquinone, azelaic acid, and kojic acid don't lighten the normal skin color. Spotless complexion is one thing. Michael Jackson is another.

Is Angela Bassett beginning to bald?

Angela Bassett displays a common cause of frontal hair thinning in African American women. Corn rows, a form of tight braiding, can cause this hair loss, called traction alopecia. Chronic tension on the hair follicles causes them to shut down, with potentially permanent balding. Looser braids, employed as early as possible, are recommended.

Vivica Fox and Alfre Woodard, one of Wisteria Lane's "Desperate Housewives," also risk frontal hair loss associated with long term use of corn row hair styling. Our advice to these ladies: Give your follicles a rest, so they can perform their best.

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