Do People of Color Need To Wear Sunscreen?
People with dark skin don’t tan, so they don’t need sunscreen, right? Not quite. Although the sun’s UV rays do impact darker skin somewhat differently than lighter skin, people of color still need to be proactive about protecting themselves from skin cancer.
Misconceptions Surrounding the Sun’s Effect on Darker Skin
“Many people with darker skin believe sunscreen is unnecessary because they do not experience the same type of tanning or burning as people with lighter skin,” notes Lesley Ott, a certified nurse practitioner at Sanova Dermatology – Baton Rouge. Not noticing obvious visible darkening or reddening can lead them to believe that the sun is not harming their skin, cannot cause skin cancer and leaves no reason to take steps to block it.
The Truth about UV Damage
It’s important to realize that sunburn and sun damage are not exactly the same thing. “Although it is true that people with especially fair skin are more prone to severe sunburns than people with dark skin tones, all people can develop skin cancer and other skin conditions that are related to sun exposure,” says Ott. High blood pressure and lupus, conditions that are more common in people with darker skin, can also have a negative impact on how UV rays affect the skin, as can the medications used to treat them.
Skin Cancer Differences That Affect People With Dark Skin
“People with dark skin are, in fact, diagnosed with skin cancer at a lower rate than people with light skin,” reveals Ott. “However, they are also less likely to be tested for or diagnosed with skin cancer early on when it is easier to treat because of this myth, which leads to a higher mortality rate among people with darker skin,” she continues. In addition, a particular type of skin cancer called acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM) is much more common in people with darker skin than people with lighter skin, which may be linked to increased vulnerability to other types of skin cancer.
At Sanova Dermatology, we are passionate about debunking myths that may be detrimental to our patients’; health. Contact us today for more sun safety tips for every skin color!
About Lesley Ott, FNP-C
Lesley is a certified Family Nurse Practitioner through the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and is licensed through the Louisiana State Board of Nursing. She has a long history working in healthcare, receiving degrees as a Licensed Practical Nurse in 2011, Bachelors of Science in Nursing in 2015, and Masters of Science in Nursing in 2020.
Lesley has almost 5 years of dermatology experience working as a Registered Nurse at Sanova Dermatology. Her experience includes working with medical and cosmetic dermatology patients and Mohs surgical patients. Her passion for connecting with and educating patients on prevention and treatment is a driving factor in her current practice. She is accepting new dermatology patients of all ages. Lesley is excited to be a part of your journey to achieve healthy skin, hair, and nails.