Skin Cancer in People of Color
Protect Yourself in the Sun
Brown skin does give you a leg up on skin protection. It has more melanin, the pigment that gives you color. Melanin helps protect against sun damage. But alone, it’s not enough:
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30.
- Don’t go in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Avoid getting sunburned.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that filter out UV radiation.
- Don’t use tanning beds, which make your chances of melanoma nearly four times greater.
Check for Warning Signs of Skin Cancer
Examine your skin head to toe every month. See a dermatologist if:
- The shape, size, or color of a new or existing mole changes.
- You have brown spots on your hands, soles, or under your nails.
- A cut or wound bleeds, oozes, or crusts, doesn't heal, or lasts longer than a month.
- You have anal or genital warts.
- You have an ulcer, growth, or sore that isn't healing near skin that is scarred or has been inflamed, especially on your legs. Some low-grade tumors may look like keloids, which are harmless areas of excessive tissue healing from wounds.
Have your skin checked once a year by a dermatologist. "A primary care doctor may not be as likely to notice a mole on the bottom of your foot," Johnson says. "A dermatologist can find things sooner, biopsy them quickly, and take care of them early."