Sunscreen and Sun Protection for Dark Skinned People vs Light Skinned

Man in the sun holding can with koozie

Over exposure to the sun can be devastating for anyone. No matter the color of your skin, sunscreen and sun protection are important not only to protect yourself from sunburn, but to protect yourself from skin cancer. With skin cancer on the rise, a good broad spectrum sunscreen is vital to minimize exposure. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommends using sunscreen on exposed skin when outdoors, and reapplying as directed to decrease your risk of developing skin cancer.

How Sun Can Affect Skin

Sun emits different types of UV rays that can be really harmful to body. There are several types of UV rays, the two most commonly mentioned in the news are UVA and UVB rays. The outer layer of skin is called the Epidermis, and it contains the pigment melanin. People with fair skin have less melanin than people with darker skin. Melanin helps to protect the skin from the sun's damage to some degree, but sunscreen, also known as sunblock, should be used on all skin pigments for protection. While some sun is good and provides the body with vitamin D, too much results in sunburn.

Signs of Sun Exposure and Effect on Skin

Skin cancer is the last result of any kind of skin damage caused by the sun. But before that, you can get some significant signs that will tell you that your skin is already getting affected by sunburn. The signs:

  • Due to exposure, the blood flow will increase in your skin and it will turn red. It might happen immediately or you might see this sometime later.
  • You might get sudden hot feeling or goosebumps due to sudden chill.
  • Sudden itchy skin, rash, tightness, and pain in certain areas of skin
  • Dehydration and blisters
  • Peeling

How Does Sun Burn Affect Dark Skin

As previously mentioned, dark skin has more melanin which protects the skin somewhat from the sun, and lighter skin has less and so is more susceptible to sunburn and damage. According to different studies, only 13.2% black people and 29.7% brown-skinned people have been affected by sunburn which is surely way less than 42.5% of white people.

However, there is a downside to it too. The signs of skin damage become less visible and hence hard to detect in dark-skinned people. That is why it is necessary even for dark people to also use sunscreen and sun protection. Using hats, covering the affected area with clothes and wearing sunscreen with Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, or both, are a must if you want to prevent skin damage.

How Does Sun Burn Affect Lighter Skin

As it is already been said, lighter skin is more susceptible to damage due to sun rays. So, no matter what, if you are going out, always use a sunscreen with a broad spectrum of SPF. Also, look out for the abnormalities on your skin, like unusually shaped moles, unhealed sores, itchiness, to name a few. Always seek the advice of a medical professional for anything in question, and be sure to get regular skin cancer checks.

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