It’s definitely important to apply sunscreen on your very dark skinned child, says a dermatologist who specializes in patients of color.
Sunscreen advertisements always show fair skinned people putting it on. Advertising is very powerful, creating all sorts of illusions, distorting reality.
Reality: Dark People Get Skin Cancer
Though skin cancer is EXTREMELY rare in children, you must also consider that childhood sun exposure is a major player in the development of skin cancer decades later!
“Yes, darkly pigmented children should wear sunscreen, as it protects against skin cancer,” affirms Neelam Vashi, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Boston University School of Medicine, and
Founder and Director, Boston University Center for Ethnic Skin.
Dr. Vashi explains, “Every person can get skin cancer. Skin cancer is associated with ultraviolet radiation (UV radiation).
“Although those with darker skin are less susceptible to UV damage because of greater amounts of protective melanin, UV damage can cause skin cancer in those with darker skin types.”
Do not let advertisements or skin cancer pamphlets showing very fair skinned blondes putting on sunscreen trick you into thinking that dark skin – even very dark – is immune from becoming malignant.
A Little Bottle with Lotion
It takes only minutes to apply sunscreen. Yes, you’d be taking a measure to help prevent an occurrence that’s incredibly rare.
But rather than focusing on the rarity of melanoma in the young population, how about focusing on how easy it is to take that preventive measure?
If something that’s super easy to do (smear sunscreen on a child) can help prevent a very rare deadly occurrence…it’s a no-brainer: Just do it! Smear it on, then send your children outside to play. Done!
It’s actually more difficult to get young kids to brush their teeth and take a bath, but most parents will make sure these tasks get done — yet will often neglect mandating sunscreen use.
Make a habit of requiring a sunscreen application before your kids go outside. Hopefully it’ll become a habit as they become older. And by the way, dark skin is not immune to premature wrinkling from the sun’s rays.