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Should You Worry About Your Dark Skin In The Sun?

Aug 17, 2007
It is always said that people with fair skin and freckles really need to be careful whilst out in the sun. So what if you have darker skin? Does that mean that you do not have to be as careful? Are there still risks of sun damage for people with darker skins?

I can be extremely confusing to know whether the sun can still damage darker skin, when you are constantly being told that fair skin has the biggest danger. So just exactly what are the risks to darker skin?

The Problems Which Can Occur With Dark Skin in the Sun
Whilst it has previously been thought that cancer is blocked by darker skins, this simply is not true. It may be less common in darker skin, but if you do have dark skin and you end up with skin cancer, it can often be more deadly than if you had fair skin. This is due to the fact that it is often diagnosed later as it is harder to find and it is often more aggressive in darker skins too.

Darker skin is better protected against sunburn however, as it contains extra pigment. Also, darker skin has increased epidermal melanin which tends to provide natural sun protection. This does not mean that you should not wear sunscreen however, you should always wear sunscreen to protect your skin, and it just means that darker skin has more of a natural protection than fair skin. Generally dark skin has a natural sun protection factor of around 13, and it can also filter the suns UV rays better than fair skin can.

Melanoma is a condition which is common on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands on people with dark skin. This is because these places are often lighter than other parts of the body. Also other skin cancers tend to first appear on the soles of the feet and on the palms of the hands so you really should check these areas regularly after you have been exposed to the sun.

The best way to prevent skin cancer is to wear sun protection. Even though darker skins do have a sun protection factor of up to 13, it is advised that you do wear sun protection with a factor of at least 15. It all depends upon where you live. Some areas have stronger UV levels than others, and so if you live in the Caribbean for example, you will generally need a higher protection level than if you lived somewhere such as the UK. A good way to see what the UV levels will be like daily, you should watch your local weather report which will tell you how strong the UV levels are going to be for that day.

Also having a healthy diet and regular exercise really can help to cut your chances of skin cancer. Eating a lot of oily fish such as salmon, which contains a lot of omega 3, can help to cut your risk of burning in the sun by up to 33% if you eat it up to three times a week for over three months.

So overall, generally if you have darker skin you are still at risk of developing skin cancer, even if your chances are reduced. You really should not gamble with your life by following research which tells you that darker skins are safe from the sun. You are not completely safe and you need to take the necessary precautions the same as everybody else. Always check your hands and the soles of your feet to check for any skin alterations such as blisters or moles. Always consult a doctor if you do notice any changes and they will be able to give you a full diagnosis. The sun can be deadly to all skin colors and it needs to be taken seriously.
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