The leading cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and, according to the National Cancer Institute, over one million people are diagnosed a year. On top of this, many black people assume that, due to their darker skin tones, they can skip sunscreen altogether. The result? Higher death rates from melanoma, a dangerous skin cancer.
Although less visible, black people can get sunburnt and can get skin cancer. Typically melanoma shows itself on areas of the body that get regular sun exposure, but melanoma tends to show up in less-typical places in those with darker skin tones, such as the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and the fingernail bed. Because of the misconception that black people can’t get skin cancer and because people aren't informed that melanoma can arise in atypical locations in black skin, people are diagnosed later. Melanoma is a cancer that spreads and can be deadly.
Women with skin of color rarely think that sunscreen is necessary. Sun is our biggest enemy when it comes to premature aging of the skin. According to an article in the huffington post if you look at the skin of two women who are in their 70s, one with skin of color and the other white, the one with skin of color almost always looks better. That’s because melanin helps to block the effects of the sun, but think of how much farther we'd all be ahead in the fight against aging if we also used sunscreen everyday. Though a minimum SPF of 30 is required to block the aging effects of the sun.
If you have black skin, please don’t assume you’re risk of skin cancer is zero. Regularly check your skin and see a doctor if something looks or feels different.