American Academy of Dermatology releases new sunscreen guidelines for people with darker skin tones

Denise Dador Image
Friday, August 4, 2023
New sunscreen guidelines released for people with darker skin tones
Statistics show fair-skinned people are more likely to develop skin cancer, but people with a darker skin tone are more likely to die from it.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- One in five people in the U.S. will develop skin cancer by the time they are 70, making it the most common type of cancer.

Statistics show fair-skinned people are more likely to develop skin cancer, but people with darker skin are more likely to die from it.

"Excess sun exposure can lead to skin cancers of which melanoma is one," said Dr. Andrew Pecora, an oncologist at the Hackensack University Medical Center.

More than two people die of skin cancer every hour in the U.S., and though doctors see melanoma more commonly in people with fair skin tones, that doesn't mean people with darker skin tones cannot get it.

Even though they have a lower risk of getting skin cancer, by the time most African Americans get a diagnosis, it has already spread to other parts of their body.

MORE: Sunscreen 101 - Facts, myths, and new research in protecting your skin

Sunscreen is a tried and true method of protection. It may seem obvious, but ABC13 found there are misconceptions and new research in sunscreen effectiveness.

The five-year survival rate for Black skin cancer patients is 70% compared to 94% for white patients. Doctors said the key to higher survival rates is detecting the cancer before it has spread.

"If you add metastatic melanoma, almost 100% of people died," said Pecora.

In the past, sunscreen companies really only marketed to people with fair skin tones. Now, more brands are emerging with sunscreen products for different complexions.

The American Academy of Dermatology released new recommendations that include telling people with darker complexions to use tinted mineral sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. The tint from the sunscreen helps block out more sunrays.

Doctors recommend applying sunscreen every two hours outdoors and even more so if you're swimming.

They also said to supplement your sunscreen with a hat and sun protective clothing.

It's also crucial to get regular skin checks, especially if you have a personal or family history of skin cancer.

WATCH: 5 facts about sunscreen you probably didn't know

Less than 15% of men and 30% of women use sunscreen regularly on their exposed skin when outside for more than an hour, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.