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Skin of color: A glance at UV rays and why you still need to protect yourself

Skin of color: A glance at UV rays and why you still need to protect yourself

Show me a good myth; I will likely delight in learning if it can be debunked. A common belief is that melanated individuals do not need sunscreen. This belief is, in fact, a myth because while richly pigmented skin offers some protection from harmful sun rays, it does not give absolute prevention to burns or skin cancer (Rodriguez, 2023). It is coupling this myth with the fact that the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are still present each day, even when overcast and on rainy or snowy days.

UV rays are a source of radiation from the sun and are most vital in high sun areas. Black and Hispanic Americans living in sunnier regions may be at increased risk of melanoma (Columbia University Irving Medical Center, 2022). In general, prolonged sun exposure may increase the risk of wrinkling, premature aging, sunspots, and burns. Repeated sunburns can lead to skin diseases and cancer (Rodriguez, 2023). Because sunlight has several known health benefits, trying to avoid it out of fear of getting too much is not the solution. Here are some ways to empower yourself for safer sun practices:
Research what the UV index is in your area and check it daily, especially before outdoor activities, so that you can plan accordingly with proper sun protection.
Certain medications and supplements may sensitize your skin to the sun.
Wear protective clothing such as wide-brim hats and long-sleeve tops.
Understand that melanoma in people of color is often hidden on the body that gets little sun, such as palms of hands, under nail beds, soles of feet, and inside of the mouth.
Consider getting your vitamin D in through oral supplements. (Always check with your primary care provider before starting new accessories).
Wear sunscreen of at least SPF 15. Reapply every 2 hours or sooner after swimming or sweating.
Get routine “skin checks” with a board-certified dermatologist.
Wear sunscreen as a part of your daily routine, even if you stay indoors. Yes, really!

#myjam: powder or cream sunscreens that contain zinc oxide

See Also

Columbia University Irving Medical Center (2022). Skin can be in people of color. Retrieved from,raises%20the%20risk%20for%20everyone.
Rodriguez, D. (2023). Sun protection for skin of color. Retrieved from

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