This is why you need to use sunscreen – even if you’re African

Woman applying sunscreen (PHOTO:Getty/Gallo)
Woman applying sunscreen (PHOTO:Getty/Gallo)

This is why you need to use sunscreen – even if you’re African

Qhama Dayile

Dark-skinned people have the misconception that they aren’t at risk of getting sunburnt or even skin cancer, dermatologist Dr Julia Nkgapele Mabu.

“Anyone and everyone who is too exposed to the sun can get skin cancer,” she says.”Too much exposure to the sun may cause sagging, wrinkles, dry patches and skin cancers. Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, is more prominent in people with lighter skin but it can also be deadly for people with darker skin.”

Here are some myths on darker skin.

Dr Mabu says dark-skinned people tend to make a few common mistakes when it comes to skincare.

I’m safe with my umbrella and under the tree

The idea an umbrella can cover one from the scorching sun or that the branches of a tree protect one from the sun is a myth. Anyone can burn, even under a tree or under an umbrella, because of the UV radiation reflected off other nearby surfaces.

I don’t need sunscreen if I have dark skin because black don’t crack

Black does crack, especially under the scorching sun. If your skin is turning dark brown from the sun, peeling or it has patches of redness that’s an indication of sunburn. You aren’t tanning. Apply a high SPF sunscreen often throughout the day and avoid the sun during 10am to 2pm.

When the isn’t sun through the clouds, I can’t get sunburn

When it’s overcast people tend to think they’re safe from the sun and should avoid using sunscreen. The sun’s rays can come through the clouds and cause sunburn, which may lead to skin cancers.

TIPSHere are some expert tips to avoid sunburn and skin cancer.

·         Apply sunscreen on your ears, face, neck the tops of your feet and any other vulnerable parts of your body 15 to 20 minutes before going out into the sun

·         Make sure your sunscreen hasn’t expired

·         Wear sunglasses with a UV protection

·         Wear a sunhat

·         Avoid direct sunlight sun during 10am to 2pm

·         Stay in the shade

·         Keep hydrated.

Detecting Skin cancer

Dr Mabu says it’s easier to treat skin cancer if it’s detected in its early stages and can most likely be cured. “A regular self-skin-detection test can also help.

Here is what to look for.

·         Patches, bumps or sores that ooze, bleed or are crusty on the skin. These often take too long to heal and might be an indication of skin cancer

·         A wart that sometimes bleeds or crusts might be the second most common form of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

·         New moles on the skin that are frail and large.