Health

‘Black don’t crack’, but it does burn, says Atlanta doctor: Internist stresses sun safety for all skin tones

canstockphoto

canstockphoto

Each year more than 1 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer; and according to 2012 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the skin cancer rate was 1/100,000 for African Americans and Asian Pacific Islanders.

All ethnicities and races are susceptible to damage by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. UVA and UVB are two types of UV radiation. UVA causes aging of the skin. UVB causes sunburn. Darker skin does not sunburn as easily due to the density of melanocytes (cells that produce pigment in skin), which does provide some measure of protection from the sun. Though not all skin cancers are associated with UV radiation, 65 per cent of melanoma and 90 per cent of non-melanoma cancers are associated with UV radiation.

Before planning an outdoor event, check the UV index. The UV index is a marker of sun exposure. The higher the index, then the greater the intensity of the sun’s rays that reach the earth’s surface.

People of all hues need to wear sunscreen. Sunscreen reflects, scatters and blocks UVA/B. Check the expiration date on your sunscreen. Apply one ounce of sunscreen, at least sun protection factor (SPF) 15, twenty minutes before leaving home. Then reapply one ounce every two hours, if in water then reapply every hour. No sunscreen provides 100 per cent protection from UV.

In addition to sunscreen, wear protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, and seek shade during the hottest part of the day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. At the beach or pool, wear a rash guard or a long sleeve cover up.

July 14, 2016
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