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Transracial Families

Transracial Hair and Skin Care - Expert Chat with Dr. Brooke Jackson

Welcome to AdoptiveFamiliesCircle’s Transracial Families Web chat with dermatologist and adoptive mom Dr. Brooke Jackson. The chat for families raising African-American, Asian, Latino, and biracial children focused on everyday ethnic skin care and hair care, as well as dry skin and other problems brought on by cold winter weather.

The chat took place on Tuesday, November 15, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EST, on this page. This page will remain live so that AFC members who weren’t able to make the chat can read through the discussion.

Read the questions AFC members submitted before the chat on this Talk to AF blog post.

Brooke Jackson, M.D., is the Medical Director of the Skin Wellness Center of Chicago. Her specialties include ethnic skin care, laser therapy and skin cancer prevention. Dr. Jackson is the adoptive mom of three young children, and she is currently writing a book about transracial adoption and beauty.


Welcome AdoptiveFamiliesCircle members! We’re so pleased to have Dr. Brooke Jackson with us to share her expertise today.

To kick off the conversation, here’s a question that AFC member YokoMama submitted before the chat:

My Latina daughter has very itchy skin. From time to time she has bouts of eczema on her elbow creases, near her underarms, along her waistband, and sometime in circles on her face. It is always worse in the winter. I use only unscented products and try to use things that are free of the usual irritants. I give her oatmeal baths when I’m not washing her hair. We are heading into the dry skin season. Any advice?

Posted by AFC Editors on Nov 16, 2011 at 1:59am

Is this happening?  Am I in the wrong place?

Posted by mainegirlmama on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:05am

Hello Dr. Jackson,
Our son is 9 months old and we’ve been using Aquphor daily on his skin. While it helped with cracked skin as a newborn, I’m hoping to find a better daily mositurizer for his skin (AA). Any tips on lotions, etc.? Thanks!

Posted by mark&kristin; on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:09am

Hi All.

Welcome and congratulations on the adoption of your children.

Dear Yokomoma,

eczema is very common and often worse in the winter months in colder climates. you are doing everything right however here are a few more suggestions

1)short baths ( 10min) in warm, not hot water
2)avoid bubble bath
3)use a moisturizer in a JAR (scoop)
4)apply moisturizer 3-5 times per day to entire body
5)humidifier in the bedroom
6)avoid scratchy clothes next to the child’s skin

Posted by Dr. Brooke Jackson on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:18am

Dr. Jackson -

I think I’m getting a handle on taking care of my Haitian daughter’s hair, now that she’s been with me for 1-1/2 years.  Her skin, however, gets bumps sometimes, even pimples.  This occurs mostly on her forehead and nose.  Although it seems counterintuitive to me, jojoba oil regularly used on her face seems to help.


Posted by bgholmes on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:20am

Hi Mark and Kristin,

Aquaphor is great for those open areas however here are a few other suggestions for the rest of the body
1)bathing—eucerin calming body wash contains oil
2)aveeno has a new line (aveeno baby) with ceramides which trap moisture next to skin. cetaphil also has a line (restoraderm) which may be helpful.

good luck

Posted by Dr. Brooke Jackson on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:20am

I am also wondering about more “grown up” lotions for AA skin.  Aquaphor works great, but my son is so greasy all the time.  Anything better (he’s 20 months)?

Posted by kjones74 on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:21am

What is your opinion on petroleum in either hair or skin products?
Are there alternatives that are less expensive?

Posted by jaynlaura on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:22am

Do you reccomend a specific type/brand of “Jar Moisturizer”?  My son is 5 months.  I am currently using Burts Bees Buttermilk lotion for babies but it doesn’t seem to be thick enough.

Posted by mainegirlmama on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:23am

Dear BG Holmes

Jojoba oil is great for skin and hair however if there are “pimples” they may be caused by the oil on the forehead. Difficult to tell without seeing it but try avoiding the jojoba oil on the face for a bit to see if that helps. Use another moisturizer such as those mentioned in other responses above. If things get worse or dont resolve, please consult a derm. Please do not use any over the counter acne medications on baby skin—they are too irritating.

Posted by Dr. Brooke Jackson on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:23am

Dear Maingirl mama

there are some great JAR moisturizers OTC
1)cetaphil and CeraVe are my favorites
3)Eucerin is a bit thicker and harder to rub in but does the trick

also Crisco in the can is wonderful for babies and not as expensive as the JARS. would rather your child be moisturized multiple times per day with a crisco $3-5 for a pound jar than ration the $10-15 jar of cetaphil

Posted by Dr. Brooke Jackson on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:26am

Dear Kjones

Often with transracial adoption parents need to search out and use products which they may not have ever used on themselves. Yes, darker skin tends to need more moisture, particularly if it is eczema prone and these products are heavier. IF the baby is well moisturized, the “heavier ” product is the best choice for him. Make sure you rub it in well so his skin should not be “greasy”

good luck

Posted by Dr. Brooke Jackson on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:29am

Hi Dr. Jackson,

Can you please recommend some good shampoos/ products for my son’s hair.  He is 2 years old now and his hair has become more course and frizzy.

Posted by mnjager on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:32am

Dr. Jackson, thank you for all of the helpful replies so far! I think some AFC members are wondering about sun protection. What SPF should parents use for their children with darker skin? Does darker skin tend to be more, or less, sensitive to sun exposure? Are there specific brands you recommend?

Posted by AFC Editors on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:35am

My 18 month old daughter’s AA hair is growing in a mohawk pattern with an extremely high forehead (her hairline begins on the top of her head).  Should I trim her fro-hawk to match her bald sides?  I’m wondering if my black friends are thinking “Cut that baby’s hair!”

Posted by brett_ashley on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:37am

I have received a few questions about how often to bathe a child, particularly if they have dry skin or eczema and here are my suggestions.

1)newborns can be bathed every 2-3 days
2)infants and toddlers every 1-2 days , just make sure to keep the baths short ( 10 min) avoid bubble baths which are very drying.perhaps add some oil (jojoba) into the bath water, use more moisturizing cleansing products such as eucerin calming body wash, pat the skin with a towel then seal in moisture with a heavier cream in a jar. for those with eczema, you may need to apply moisture to the entire body 2-4 times per day particularly during the winter months

Posted by Dr. Brooke Jackson on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:41am

My daughter is Latin-Asian (birth mom is from Vietnam and birth dad from Colombia), born in the US. I know both birthparents suffered from eczema. She doesnt have it but her skin needs daily moisturizing, especially on her legs. Her knees and toes are particularly dry and darker than the rest of her skin. We use a cocoa butter shower gel (Johnson and Johnson) and a moisturizer formulated for atopic skin (Cetaphil Restoraderm) as the pediatrician recommended. Weve been on that regimen for over a year (shes 2 years old now) and havent seen much difference. Any suggestions? Why is her skin so dry on her knees and toes?

Posted by Maru on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:41am

Dear Brett-Ashley

it is not uncommon for babies hair to grow unevenly and even have bald spots on the back and sides of their heads—particularly if they were preemies. Infants often rub their heads side to side as they are falling asleep and this can prevent hair from growing.
Chances are, once your baby is able to sit up, the hair will start to grow on the sides.

You may want to trim the “fro-hawk” down if you do not want the length difference to be so noticeable.

Posted by Dr. Brooke Jackson on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:44am

Dear Maru

Few things
1)i would probably avoid the shower gel—try one of the other suggestions made in other responses.
2)skin is often thicker in areas of trauma and infants spend alot of time on their knees as they are crawling. this may settle down once she starts to walk
3)-make sure her socks arent bunching and her shoes fit well so there is no rubbing on the toes.
There are medications however many may be too irritating for young skin so i would just suggest heavier creams at this point.
4)She may well have eczema and need treatment for that.

Posted by Dr. Brooke Jackson on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:47am

Dr. Jackson, here’s a question submitted prior to the chat by AFC member LW:
“My 15 year old African daughter has been diagnosed with Pityriasis Rosea and we have not been able to find any kind of cream that really helps with the itching.  She has had it for several years now and it comes and goes.  Hydrocortisone doesn’t seem to help any.”

Posted by AFC Editors on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:49am

Sun protection is important for ALL SKIN COLORS.
There is often a misperception that skin of color does not burn and will not develop skin cancer. NOT TRUE. Bob Marley died of a melanoma so it can happen. IT is important to teach your children good sun behavior for the health of their skin which includes

1)application of sun screen SPF 15 or greater, 15 min before going outdoors
2)reappply every 2 hours
3)modelling good sunbehavior—avoiding tanning booths yourselves
4)wearing sunprotective clothing

Posted by Dr. Brooke Jackson on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:50am

Will Dr. Jackson be answering question that were asked before the discussion started or should we re-post them. Thank you!

Posted by DTBI on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:52am

Dear LW—

if she has had Pityriasis Rosea for years then she probably doesnt have pityriasis rosea. this condition usually only lasts for a few months and is often a one time issue. Please have her seen by a dermatologist. to find a board certified dermatologist

Posted by Dr. Brooke Jackson on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:53am

Dear MNJager

great question—the curlier the hair, the less frequently you need to wash it. washing curly (highly textured hair) once every 5-10 days should be adequate.

check out for great suggestions for products for highly textured hair.

also using a leave in conditioner can be quite helpful.
I love kinkycurly whyknot for detangling and leave in

Posted by Dr. Brooke Jackson on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:56am

Dr. Jackson, here is the question that DTBI posted before the chat:
Hi! Our daughter adopted from Africa is almost 3 years old. Around the time she turned one, the pigment around one eye and down the the same side of the face started to lighten. The other side of her face has not changed in its pigmentation. She had a cut on her face near her eye when she was a baby so I put some Sweet Almond oil with Vit E on it for a few weeks to keep it moist as it healed. Could this have caused this patch of skin to lighten? Is there anything we can do to make her pigmentation on her face more uniform? Thank you!

Posted by AFC Editors on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:56am

Dear DTBI,

thank you. first, the oil did not cause the lightening so unburden yourself of guilt!

this could be one of several things and probably best to see a dermatologist for proper diagnosis

here are a few things that come to mind
1)pityriasis ALBA—a form of eczema
3)cafe au lait spot
4)lichen striatus

please consult a board certified dermatologist

good luck

Posted by Dr. Brooke Jackson on Nov 16, 2011 at 3:00am

thank you so much for the chat
i hope this has been helpful

enjoy the rest of your day

Dr Jackson.

Posted by Dr. Brooke Jackson on Nov 16, 2011 at 3:01am

A big thank you to Dr. Brooke Jackson for taking the time to address AdoptiveFamiliesCircle members’ questions, and to all AFC members who participated! This page will remain live on the site, so that you may review the questions and responses, and anyone who was not able to make the chat today can read through the discussion.

Posted by AFC Editors on Nov 16, 2011 at 3:02am

Curious what treatment you would recommend to treat molloscum contagiousum?  My pediatrician initially recommended simply leaving the 7 papules that were on my sons chest; however, it has since spread to his arms, back, and face.  I’m currently using apple cider vinegar because I couldn’t get into a dermatologist for another week.  I am concerned about spreading it to others in the family. (are pools ok?) And about preventing scarring.  Poor guy!  I’d appreciate any suggestions!

Posted by JKW on Nov 20, 2011 at 12:38pm

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