New guidelines on sunscreen for darker skin

Published: Sep. 2, 2023 at 12:58 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 26, 2023 at 5:57 PM CDT
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ORLANDO, Fla. (WGEM) --- One in five people in the US will develop skin cancer by the time they are 70 years old, making it the most common type of cancer. Even though statistics show fair-skinned people are more likely to develop skin cancer, darker-skinned people are more likely to die from it.

Summer is filled with lots of fun in the sun, but …

Andrew Pecora, MD, Oncologist at Hackensack University Medical Center says, “Excess sun exposure can lead to skin cancers of which melanoma is one.”

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and affects some people more than others.

Doctor Pecora says, “We see melanoma more commonly in fair-skinned people who don’t have a lot of pigment to protect themselves from the ultraviolet radiation of the sun.”

But that doesn’t mean people with darker skin tones cannot get it. Even though they have a lower risk of getting skin cancer, by the time most African Americans get a diagnosis, it has already spread to other parts of their body. In fact, the five-year survival rate for black skin cancer patients is 70 percent, while it’s 94 percent for white patients. Doctors say the key to higher survival rates is detecting it before the cancer has spread.

Doctor Pecora says, “If you add metastatic melanoma, almost 100% of people died.”

There are things people with darker skin can do to protect themselves from even getting skin cancer in the first place. Recently, the American Academy of Dermatology released recommendations that include telling people with darker complexions to use tinted mineral sunscreen with an SPF of 30. The tint from the sunscreen helps to block out more light. Other things that can help: wearing a hat and ultraviolet protection clothing. Making sure you’re protected while having fun in the sun.

In the past sunscreen companies really only marketed to fair-skinned people. But today, more brands are emerging with sunscreen products for different complexions, including Neutrogena’s line of tinted-face sunscreens and the launch of the company black girl sunscreen.

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