22 May 2012

Black People Don’t Get Sunburnt

22 May 2012

Sunscreen is something I never think of applying. I ski in the winter, and do outrigger canoeing for the rest of the year. With all the gear I have to keep track of and maintain for these activities, sun burn doesn’t even come to mind. This might also be because I am a black man, and I can’t remember ever once getting sun burnt. I get darker, but my skin doesn’t burn or peel. Sometimes I even laugh at my fairer skin friends who look like ghosts when they lather on large amounts of SPF. But you know the saying “who laughs last laughs the best”? Lets just say I’m done laughing.

According to a survey conducted by the CDC ”even one blistering burn can double the risk of developing melanoma, an often lethal form of skin cancer.” This fact is particularly alarming considering “half of U.S. adults under 30 say they have had a sunburn at least once in the previous year.” Compared to previous years, the rate of sunburn is on the rise. The consensus being “many people are not putting on sunscreen or are not re-applying it adequately.”

Another study on the use of tanning equipment suggests an even starker trend. Remember the New Jersey woman who was arrested for taking her 5 year old daughter into a tanning booth. When I first saw the article and the mother’s picture, I was wondering why was this black lady going tanning, much less taking her daughter.

Experts wonder why we’re not heeding their warnings, considering all the information we have available to us. I can only speak for myself, and for me it was a matter of ignorance. As a black man who doesn’t experience skin irritations due to sun exposure, I never felt the need to protect myself. But as my mother always says “prevention is better than cure.” I know now and I’m going to make changes to my routine.

Regardless of skin color, sun exposure can be detrimental to your health. Experts suggest either avoiding direct sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. or covering your body, and remember to reapply your sunscreen throughout the day.

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