As the days of spring time begin and summer right around the corner, many are heading outside to soak up some of the sun’s warming rays. Some dark skinned individuals may be unsure if they need to take precautions while they are having fun in the sun.
Dr. Rebat Halder, professor and chairman of dermatology at Howard University, says “Yes”. “The reason why is that everybody can get damage from the sun regardless of what their skin color is. Even though dark skinned individuals (Blacks, Hispanics, etc.) have more melanin (protective skin pigments) in their skin, it doesn’t protect them completely.”
Despite having more melanin than light skinned individuals, people of color still need to practice sun protection. Also people of African descent or other dark-skinned races can and do get skin cancer. It is a common belief that the melanin in dark skinned individuals protects them from skin cancer. The truth is melanin only offers some amount of protection. What is true is that with dark skin, sun damage is less obvious. The use of sunscreen is therefore necessary. Sunscreen of SPF 15 is recommended.
According to Dr. Lucius C. Earles III, past president of the National Medical Association (NMA), protecting dark skinned individuals is relatively new.
“I would say 20-25 years ago most dermatologists thought it was not necessary, but now there’s increasing evidence that dark skinned individuals are more susceptible to the sunlight.”
Much of the skin damage and skin cancer can be visually seen in Caucasians and lighter-skinned people. But with darker skinned it is harder to see unless you put it under a microscope, which causes misconceptions.
There are several things that can be done to protect your skin from the sun.
1. Sunscreens: Some people become allergic to some of the chemicals in sunscreens, so you should experiment with different kinds or consult a dermatologist. The sunscreen you use should be SPF 15 or above. Children who play outside for long periods of time should also use sunscreen.
2. Medications: If you are taking medications, you should ask your doctor if it is okay for you to be out in the sun for long periods. Certain medications such as those for hypertension, and acne can cause people to be more sensitive to the sun. Also pregnant women and women who are on hormonal therapy and even some men can get uneven patches over their cheeks, forehead and upper lip if their skin is unprotected from the sun.
3. Protective clothing: Such as hats with wide brims and wearing long sleeves will help with protecting you from the sun. There are clothing companies that have specific lines of clothing designed for sun protection.
Regardless of race, we all have beautiful skin, and we should take the necessary steps to keep it healthy.
If you have questions concerning this article please contact your health care provider or feel free to give Dr. Bean a call at Bean Chiropractic (916) 447-2200. You may also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sidney B. Bean, DC
Bean Chiropractic, 2716 V Street , Sacramento, CA 95818
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