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Black People Should Wear Sunscreen, Too

By Leah Freeman-Haskin

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Black people are not immune to skin cancer. One of the most harmful health misconceptions about people with darker skin is that we don’t get sunburned and we don’t need to wear sunscreen. Your melanin may be poppin’, but it still needs to be protected from the sun.

According to skincancer.org, anyone can get skin cancer. While incidences of melanoma may be higher in Caucasians, it can be more deadly in people of color. Often undetected until it reaches later stages, melanoma in black people often results in the worst prognosis and lowest survival rate. 

Our high production of melanin does help protect the skin from UV exposure to a certain extent, but black people can still get sunburned and develop skin cancer from UV damage. Other risks include sun damage and skin discoloration. Therefore, no matter your skin tone, it is highly recommended to wear sunscreen every day as well as protective gear like hats and sunglasses even when it’s cloudy and the sun isn’t in sight.

Skincancer.org highly recommends doing monthly skin self-exams and seeing a dermatologist yearly to detect early signs of skin cancer. Here are also a few signs they say to look out for:

  • A bump, patch, sore or growth that bleeds, oozes, crusts, doesn’t heal or lasts longer than a month. This may indicate basal cell carcinoma.
  • An ulcer, scaly red patch, wart-like growth or sore that sometimes crusts or bleeds could be a sign of squamous cell carcinoma. This type of skin cancer can also develop in old scars or areas of previous physical trauma or inflammation.
  • New or existing moles that are asymmetrical, have an irregular border, more than one color, are larger than a pencil eraser or change in any way may indicate melanoma. Pay special attention to suspicious spots on the hands, soles of the feet or under the nails, which could signify ALM.

It’s important to note that Vitamin D, also known as The Sunshine Vitamin, is essential to good health including cell growth, immune and bone health. Since the body produces Vitamin D from sun exposure, it is important to get at least 20-minutes of direct sunlight a day. Just be sure to protect yourself!

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