()Skin cancer is still a serious disease in the United States. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation data, there will be 15,000 skin cancer deaths and approximately 5.5million skin cancer cases this year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are many misconceptions about skin cancer and sun protection, particularly among people of color.
“The misperception that people of color don’t need sunscreen is one we need to change because we do burn and we are susceptible to skin cancer just like everyone else,”Lavdena Orr MD is chief medical officer at AmeriHealth Caritas. This health care organization is dedicated to providing care for those in greatest need.
“Ultraviolet rays don’t discriminate against skin type, so avoiding sunburn is the primary way to reduce one’s risk of developing melanoma or any other type of skin cancer.”
According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, although overall rates of melanoma are higher in whites than they are for African-Americans, the likelihood that the disease is diagnosed later and with a worse prognosis for African-Americans is greater.
Ginette Okoye, MD, a board certified dermatologist and chair, of the department dermatology at Howard University Hospital, Washington, D.C., says that skin cancers are more likely to form in areas less visible like the feet or nails in people of colour.
“In some cases, excessive sun exposure is not necessarily the trigger for this type of cancer in skin of color,”Dr. Okoye says so. She notes, however, that those with darker skin are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency. “the pigment in our skin filters out sunlight which we need to produce vitamin D in the skin.”
She recommends taking vitamin D supplements as needed, along with a vitamin D-rich diet that includes salmon, tuna and mackerel.
Dr. Okoye reminds patients of all races to pay close attention to these three areas.
Face: Protect your skin from direct sunlight exposure by using sunscreen or using hats and visors.
– Left Side: Both the left arm and left side of the head get sun exposure while driving. If you plan to drive long distances in the summer, make sure you bring sunscreen.
– Skin trauma: Any type of skin injury can lead to hyperpigmentation.
For more information, please visit amerihealthcaritas.com.
These are the basic guidelines of The Skin Cancer Foundation for sun protection
– ClothingFor skin protection, wear long sleeves, wraps and sarongs.
Accessories You can keep your neck, ears, and face safe by wearing sunglasses and hats in the sun. You can also use umbrellas.
Timing: Avoid excessive sun exposure between 10 am and 4 pm, when the UV rays are strongest.
SunscreenUse sunscreen when you are outside. Apply sunscreen at least every two hours, especially if you’re swimming or sweating heavily.