Under the African sun: Steps to skin cancer prevention

Under the African sun: Steps to skin cancer prevention

Sun protection is important, no matter your skin tone or age. Use sunscreen and protective clothing to protect yourself from sun-damage and skin cancer. 

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According to the British Journal of Dermatology, skin cancer makes up 1-2% of cancers present in people of colour. This may look like a small number, however, the mortality rate is high as a result of misconceptions about skin cancer in brown skin. Often, skin cancer in darker skin is diagnosed too late, leading to poor prognosis and cancer that has advanced too far.


It is crucial to be aware that skin cancer can affect anyone, and everyone needs to use sunscreen and sun protective measures.  Starting with sun protection at a young age can help with preventing skin cancer later in life. The majority of skin cancers develop later in life, however, UV damage can begin as early as childhood. Therefore, it is important to integrate daily UV protection.

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Besides protecting your skin from cancer, suncare also helps to prevent:

Sunspots/age spots
Damage to skin an eyes


In brown skin suncare can help combat:

Hyperpigmentation, melasma and other pigmentation disorders

Tips to protect your skin from the African sun:

Wear sunscreen

The most important thing is to use a broad spectrum sunscreen. It is recommended that you use SPF15 but the African sun can be quite harsh, so anything above SPF30 would be best. Do your research about the best sun care for your skin type. There are various products to choose from. Some provide added benefits such as anti-ageing and tints for extra protection. For example, Clicks deals online has a number of suncare products like sunscreen and aftersun that you can use to prevent skin cancer.


For the best protection:

Sunscreen is deemed most effective when it is applied at least 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, moreso after swimming and sweating.
Wear sunscreen every day! Even if the sun is not visible, UV rays can still be harmful to your skin on cloudy days.
Use sunscreen liberally: you need a handful to cover your whole body. Don’t forget your ears, feet, hands and neck.
Look for lip balms that contain SPF

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Between 10am and 4pm, stay out of the sun

The sun’s rays are said to be strongest during these hours. If you need to be outside between 10am and 4pm, find a shady area like a tree or use an umbrella to move around.


Use extra protection: hats, sunglasses and long sleeves

Protect your beautiful face and neck by wearing a hat with a wide brim. Avoid wearing straw hats or hats with holes that allow light to get through. If you’re wearing a baseball cap or visor, make sure to apply sunscreen to your ears and the back of your neck. UV rays are best blocked by clothing made of densely woven fabrics.

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It’s also essential to wear UV-blocking sunglasses. This will assist in preventing sun damage to your eyes and the skin around them. When you shop for sunglasses, check for the UVA/UVB sticker on the lenses.

Wear a long-sleeved shirt and a long skirt or long pants when you spend lots of time outdoors.


Examine your skin regularly

Check your skin regularly for any odd marks or growths. Visit a doctor if you notice any mole or lumps on your skin, or sores that don’t heal.

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