07 Nov Ask Dr. Rodney- Do Black People Need to Wear Sunscreen?
A very common, and dangerous misconception is that black people do not need to wear sunscreen. Almost every day when I start this sunscreen conversation with a black patient (or anyone with dark skin type for that matter), I am greeted by the response “Black don’t crack”… or some version of this well-known phrase.
This lack of awareness is not only within the Black population, but also stems from the medical community itself. Data backs up this disparity: A 2014 study found that Black people were prescribed sunscreen after ER visits roughly 9 times less than their white counterparts. Even in medical conditions that are worsened by sun exposure, such as lupus erythematosus, some doctors may not emphasize the need for consistent sunscreen use in people with dark skin.
While many people use sunscreen to prevent wrinkling and aging of the skin, the major benefit of sunscreen use is that it protects against DNA damage that usually result from chronic sun exposure and can lead to skin cancer. It is true that certain types of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma are much more common in Caucasian skin. The good news it that skin cancer is curable when detected and treated early. While less common, these conditions do occur in Black skin, but are usually diagnosed at a much more advanced and deadly stage.
So, the short answer to the question is yes! Everyone, including those with dark skin need to wear sunscreen every day. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 50 every day. A broad spectrum sunscreen is one that protects from both the damaging UVA and UVB rays.
One issue that some people encounter with sunscreen is that it may leave a white film on the skin, which makes it undesirable for daily use.