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Africans Need Sunscreen Too (Men Included)

There has been an ongoing myth for decades that dark skin doesn’t burn, and so doesn’t need sunscreen. The truth is that all complexions can burn. Dark skin has more melanin than white skin and what melanin does is it provides some protection from the sun’s UV rays – but you can’t depend on that alone. The extra melanin doesn’t protect against the UV damage that accelerates aging or causes cancer. The best thing to do is to begin each day by applying a sunscreen or moisturizer with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 to 30 and reapplying often while in direct sunlight.

Below are common skin problems caused by sun exposure and tips on how to rescue your skin from the damage.

For Darkened Facial Skin

Changes in the skin’s pigmentation occur as we age and are very prominent in African skin. Exposure to both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) light stimulates the production of melanin which most likely accounts for darkening of the skin. There are 4 commonly occurring types of darkening.

• Localized areas on the face and neck
• More generalized areas on the face and neck
• Dark under eye circles
• Uneven skin tone

A way to treat the problem is to adopt the daily regimen of applying a SPF 15 or 30 sunscreen. For those who are experiencing pigmentary changes, a SPF 30 combined with a glycolic acid cream or lotion are recommended. Microdermabrasion and chemical peels are a great solution for Africans with this problem. It is recommended to undergo glycolic peels and, for sensitive skin, gentler salicylic peels.( consult your dermatologist)

For Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation are dark spots or splotches from UV-ray exposure .it needs to be treated with a prescription for 2% hydroquinone or 4% if severe( again consult your dermatologist), which is faster-acting and more effective than the over-the-counter variety. But make sure you don’t use a hydroquinone fader longer than four months, because a rare condition of permanently darkened skin tone could happen. If this occurs, take a break for a month or two and then resume treatment. The widely held idea among black women that tanning will solve hyperpigmentation, by enabling the darker areas to blend in, is purely a myth.

For Dark Freckles (yes black people get freckles too)

Dermatosis papulosa nigra (DPNs) is another pigmentary problem caused by the sun. These are benign cutaneous condition common among blacks. It is usually characterized by small, brown or black bumps that are sometimes mistaken for moles. A combination of heredity, aging and exposure to the sun are factors in the development of DPNs.

they are not dangerous and can easily be removed in a clinic. Since there is no cream that has the ability to remove DPNs, treatment involves either excising the lesions with as special surgical instrument, called a gradle scissor, or burning them with an electric needle. These procedures are well generally tolerated and healing generally occurs within one week. Side effects of removal may include light or dark skin discolorations which usually fade rapidly.

Reference: on request

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