As the summer season gets into in full swing, it’s crucial to protect our skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays. Dr. Sujata Garach, a renowned medical doctor specialising in medical aesthetics and specialised forms of advanced clinical skin care management, emphasizes that the belief that black people are not prone to skin cancer is a dangerous belief and simply not true.
While melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, may be less common among individuals with darker skin tones, it doesn’t mean they are exempt from skin cancer altogether, therefore, there needs to be awareness and access to better health care.
Tips for looking after your skin:
Dr. Garach highlights the importance of applying sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher on all exposed skin, regardless of skin tone. This is crucial because, while darker skin tones naturally provide more protection against the sun’s damaging effects, they are not entirely immune to harmful UV rays.
Sunscreen can also be taken in the form of capsules that can be taken once daily—they help to decrease the application of sunscreen but does not replace it. A good sunscreen should have protection against UVA, UVB, Infrared light and high energy visible light.
- Avoid sun exposure
To further protect your family’s skin, Dr. Garach emphasises the significance of avoiding unnecessary sun exposure from 12 to 3 p.m., avoiding tanning beds, and using sunscreen daily. 20 minutes daily of sun exposure without sunscreen is probably OK for fairer skins and 30 minutes for darker complexions but any more than that is risky.
- Wear protective clothing
Encourage your family to wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible, including long-sleeved shirts, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses with UV protection. These protective measures are essential for preventing sunburns and reducing the risk of long-term skin damage.
- Regular self-examinations
Dr. Garach stressed the importance of yearly self-examinations, or more often if you are at a higher risk or have a family history. Skin cancer can develop in anyone, regardless of skin tone, and early detection is crucial for successful treatment. Teach your family how to check their skin regularly for any changes in moles, birthmarks, or new growths, and consult a dermatologist if any concerns arise.
- Stay hydrated
Keeping your family hydrated during hot summer days is beneficial for overall skin health. Encourage them to drink plenty of water to maintain skin moisture and reduce the chances of heat-related skin conditions.
“Regular skin check-ups with a dermatologist should be a part of every individual’s healthcare routine, regardless of their skin tone.”
Black skin & skin cancer
It is vital to address the belief that black people don’t get skin cancer. Dr. Garach emphasized that although skin cancer might be less common in individuals with darker skin tones, it can still occur. In fact, when it is diagnosed, it is often at an advanced stage due to delayed detection. Regular skin check-ups with a dermatologist should be a part of every individual’s healthcare routine, regardless of their skin tone.
Protecting your family’s skin should be a priority, regardless of their skin tone. By following the tips mentioned above, such as using sunscreen, avoiding sun exposure, wearing protective clothing, and promoting regular self-examinations, you can make sure that your family enjoys a safe and healthy summer. Remember, skin protection should be a universal practice, ensuring the well-being of all individuals, regardless of their ethnicity or skin tone.
There is a common misconception that people with darker skin tones, particularly black people, are immune to skin cancer. Let’s debunk that myth.