Treat Your Brown Skin Right
With summer vacation time right around the corner, we are all looking forward to spending a little time on the beach, lying out on the warm sand, soaking some sun and sipping our frozen drinks, all while working on our tans.
Don’t worry; we aren’t fair-skinned, so we don’t burn easily. The sun isn’t bad for us. How many times have you heard this statement? Probably too many to count.
Now ask any dermatologist how many cases of skin cancer he sees in Asians, and he will tell you too many to count!
Yes, it is true that skin cancer is more prevalent in fair-skinned people living in hot, sunny climates. People with red hair, freckles and fair skin are even more at risk. It is most common in people of Celtic (Scottish, Irish and Welsh) background and not as common in people with very dark skin (of African, Indian and Asian origin). But don’t mistakenly assume that your darker skin is a magic protective barrier against skin cancer.
First, the good health news about your darker Asian or Mediterranean skin: Your quick-tanning skin gives you automatic SPF-4 sun protection, somewhat lowering your skin cancer risk. But it does not make you invincible or resistant to getting skin cancer, you still need to take the necessary precaution of applying sunscreen before you go out in the sun. The statistics on South Asian skin cancer rates are not yet available as most of the research focuses on higher risk light skinned groups. This leads many people to be misguided into believing that their dark skin is protected, when actually there is very little evidence in either direction.
The bad news is that you still have an increased risk for brown pigmented patches that can give you a blotchy complexion. These can be caused by irritations of the skin, including sunburn and rashes, which leave a hyper-pigmented patch on your skin. Skin discolorations are especially common with darker skin, so be careful not to further aggravate (by itching or picking at) any irritations on your skin since the resulting pigmentation can take months to fade. Where skin cancer and your complexion are both concerned, you shouldn’t be passive and allow fate to take its course.
When it comes to medicine, especially cancers, you never know if you will develop something in the future and nothing is a 100% guarantee. However, you can greatly improve your odds of staying cancer-free and brown patch-free, thereby having healthy skin, by following a good home skin care routine.
Here are some sensitive skin “do’s” and “don’ts” that dermatologists recommend:
|DO Cleanse your face once a day or more often for oily skin. Choose a cleanser that’s designed for your skin type. For oily skin, look for more detergent to strip away the surface oils; for dry, sensitive skin, choose a moisturizing cleanser.
DO Use a moisturizer especially if you have dry skin. Use it two or three times a day if you need to. You may like a rich cream or lotion for the colder seasons, and a lighter version for the warmer seasons.
DO Wear sunscreen for a double protective effect. An SPF 15 to 30 every day (or much more often with concentrated sun exposure) can block the sun’s cancer-causing and wrinkle promoting rays, and allow any dark-spot discolorations to clear (the sun will otherwise work to further activate those dark-spot pigment cells).
DO See a dermatologist if you have problematic skin. The earlier you seek professional help, the more reversible a problem may be, points out New York City dermatologist Fran Cook-Bolden, M.D., director of the Ethnic Skin Specialty Group and author of Beautiful Skin of Color, expected to be made available this fall. Seek out an ethnic-skin expert if you’re considering cosmetic surgery. Otherwise you’re risking a dermatologic disaster â€” your skin could react very differently from lighter skin.
|DON’T Give in to the myth that you are invincible to skin cancer just because you have darker skin or donâ€™t ever burn in the sun! Always, always use sunscreen.
DON’T Use an over-the-counter product that aggravates your sensitive skin. A benzoyl peroxide-containing acne treatment, for example, might do wonders for your white best friend’s acne, but might injure your skin and result in unsightly brown spots.
DON’T Assume a doctor who got fabulous results for others will have the experience you’re looking for. You might not be able to walk in to the same doctor’s office and have the identical results that your Irish, Celtic-skin-type friend had.
DON’T Choose a moisturizer with any drying or pore-clogging ingredients. Avoid vitamin A or retinol for their drying properties, and Vaseline-type greasy products for their acne-promoting potential.
DON’T Use scented products for sensitive skin. A product isn’t truly natural just because it’s herbal. “We don’t want that kind of natural, i.e., her-bal or floral,” warns dermatologist Wendy E. Roberts, M.D., medical director at Desert Dermatology Medical Associates in Rancho Mirage, Calif., who calls these products “horrible” for the way they can damage fragile skin.
— WRITTEN BY Keri Doc