Tan or have naturally dark skin? You’re still at risk of skin cancer

 

If you tan easily or have naturally dark skin, you might think you won’t get skin cancer. But think again.

Female in pool on lilo

1. A tan is still unhealthy

If you have naturally dark skin but it colours more in summer, that’s a sign of UV damage. And if you have lighter skin that tans and doesn’t burn, it’s still a sign of UV damage. As UV damage adds up, it all increases your risk of skin cancer. So remember, no matter your skin type, there’s nothing healthy about a tan!

2. No visible signs, doesn’t mean no skin damage

UV damage adds up over time, which means you don’t always see the signs straight away. But the more time you spend unprotected in the sun, the greater your risk of skin cancer, as well as premature ageing and eye damage.

3. Yes, you still need sun protection

All skin types can be damaged by UV, which means all skin types can get skin cancer. But the good news is that you can also prevent skin cancer! During sun protection times each day simply slip on clothing, slop on sunscreen, slap on a broad-brimmed hat, seek shade and slide on sunglasses.

4. Go for SPF30+

Even if your skin takes longer to burn, an SPF of less than 30 is not going to cut it.

Always choose a SPF30 (or higher), broad-spectrum and water-resistant sunscreen. If you’re worried about the formula leaving a grey look on your skin, test a few products to find a sunscreen that absorbs quickly.

5. It’s unwise to seek sun for vitamin D

If you have naturally very dark skin, you can be at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency. Continue to use sun protection and talk to your doctor about whether you might need supplementation – it’s much safer than risking UV damage!

6. Skin cancer can be harder to spot

New or changing spots won’t stand out as much on darker skin, so be vigilant. Check your skin regularly at home, using a mirror (or a family member or friend) to check those hard-to-see places on your back, neck and scalp. Check all of your skin, including the soles of your feet, armpits and any other areas that aren’t normally exposed to sun – skin cancer can appear anywhere.

Keep an eye out for any new spots that appear, or spots that change in colour, shape or size. If you notice any changes, see a doctor as soon as possible. 

Quiz: Are you an incidental tanner? 7 myths that can lead to skin cancer This is how much sunscreen you actually need Why men need to get over their fear of sunscreen

 

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