With summer approaching, dermatologists remind of importance of sunscreen regardless of skin tone

·2 min read

The hottest time of the year is quickly approaching, and a lot of people will be enjoying time outside in the sun.

Dermatologists with Novant Health have strong reminders about the importance of sun protection for everyone, regardless of skin tone.

According to doctors with Novant Health, five or more sunburns in your lifetime doubles your risk for melanoma. They said that even just one blistering sunburn as a kid could increase your risk.

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“Tan or darkening of the skin equals sun damage,” said Beck Vaglio, PA-C from Novant Health Dermatology Ballantyne. “So there’s no such thing as your base tan to help you prevent you from burning or going to the tanning bed a few times to kind of get that base layer. All of that equates to sun damage and DNA changes that ultimately will lead to skin cancer down the line as well as aging.”

In 2022, the American Cancer Society estimates almost 100,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma in the United States.

White or fair skinned people are 20 times more likely than Black or darker skinned people to get melanoma.

But the ACS said that 1 in 1,000 Black people will get melanoma in their lifetime, which dispels the long-held belief that darker skin provides immunity to sun damage.

“I will state that for darker complexions, melanomas are less common on typical body sites,” said Dr. Alyssa Daniel with Novant Health Dermatology Ballantyne. “They’re more likely to experience what we call acral lentiginous melanoma, which are melanomas that occur on the hands and the feet.”

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The American Academy of Dermatology Association said that when skin cancer is caught in darker people, it is typically at a later stage when treatment is more difficult because of a lack of awareness that it could be an issue.

And the sun can age everyone.

“So everyone should use sunscreen,” said Daniel. “All skin types can benefit from the goals of course preventing skin cancer and also secondary, helping with photo aging or sun damage that can cause aging of the skin.”

Dermatologists advice using sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 but said higher SPFs may not provide significantly more protection.

They also advice reapplying sunscreen every two hours, no matter the season.

They also said to wear hats and clothing to cover your skin during prolonged exposure because even your scalp can burn.

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