You would think that by now, the vote on whether or not to wear sunscreen would be just about unanimous. Research shows that SPF is a vital step in protecting against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that can cause skin cancer and premature aging. So you can imagine that if a dermatologist told you that you could ditch the sunscreen, you might be a bit confused.
In a post on r/skincareaddiction, one Redditor shared a shocking story titled, “Dermatologist told me to ditch sunscreen.”
“Recently I went to a dermatologist for the 1st time and while discussing my skincare routine, he told me to not wear sunscreen because they're all too greasy and that Asians have a very low chance of getting skin cancer,” she wrote in her post.
“He said the only people who need to wear sunscreen are pale white people (gestured to himself),” she added. “I live in Australia and if you're not familiar with Aus, skin cancer here is freakishly common. There's so much public health promotion about anything skin cancer or sun related because the sun here is so strong. Every kid grows up with the motto ‘slip, slop, slap’ in their heads. Should I report this Dr?”
In one day, the post amassed over 2,000 upvotes and hundreds of comments—most expressing their shock about the over the doctor’s recommendations.
“Holy heck, we Australians of all people should definitely be the ones to all wear sunscreen, one user commented.
“I'd rather be greasy than dead,” another wrote.
The post had us scratching our heads, as well. What was her doctor thinking? While it’s true that non-white people have a lower overall risk of skin cancer than white people, they are certainly not immune. “Yes, everyone can get skin cancer,” wrote Maritza Perez, MD, co-author of Understanding Melanoma: What You Need to Know, in a 2009 article for the Skin Cancer Foundation. Many people of color are less susceptible to UV damage, she wrote, because they have more melanin—the protective pigment that gives skin and eyes their color. “But people of color can still develop skin cancer from UV damage,” she added.
In fact, Dr. Perez wrote, skin-cancer diagnoses in non-white people are often delayed, since doctors and patients may not believe they are at risk. “So while skin cancer is much more common among lighter-skinned people, it tends to be more deadly among people of color,” she wrote.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer represents approximately 2 to 4 percent of all cancers in Asians. Additionally, women of any ethnicity under the age of 49 are more likely to develop melanoma than any other cancer, with the exception of breast and thyroid cancers.
To help reduce the risk of skin cancer, doctors recommend using a sunscreen with at least SPF 30, and reapplying often. There are even sunscreens specifically made for sensitive and acne prone skin (here are some of the best sunscreens for your face), so finding one that’s not greasy shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Needless to say, we hope that woman reported her dermatologist—and continued lathering on that SPF.
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