Photo from The Skin Cancer Foundation
Exposure of the skin to sunlight has both benefits (increased vitamin D) and potential harms (skin cancer). A public health recommendation was made that both light and dark complexioned people should wear sunscreen for any exposure to the sun. This recommendation is used as part of promotional messaging by the companies that make and market sunscreen. This strict approach is open to debate. And it’s also unclear that it applies to all skin types.
In a New York Times article “Should Black People Wear Sunscreen?” Pierre-Louis tackles the public health recommendation that everyone–regardless of skin variation, age, and gender–needs to wear sun protection. She specifically talks about the recommendation that dark-skinned people should wear sunscreen, pointing out the scarcity of research done on dark-skinned individuals to determine the relative benefits and harms. A randomized clinical study found that the four active ingredients found in sunscreen, avobenzone, ecamsule, octocrylene, and oxybenzone, are absorbed into the blood stream of healthy volunteers that exceeded Food and Drug Administration limit. The potential downsides of absorption of the active ingredients in sunscreen into the circulation are unknown.
It’s not clear that people with lots of natural melanin benefit from routine use of sunscreen in any amount of sun exposure. Melanin is a molecule that works like sunscreen. It absorbs and deflects UV rays. More research is merited before recommending routine use of sunscreen for any amount of sun exposure in people with greater melanin in their skin.
Photo from Simply SunSafe
Many believe that people with a dark complexion do not have to wear sunscreen. While it is true that people with darker skin have more protection against ultraviolet radiation (UVR), it is still recommended to wear sunscreen.
Melanocytes produce melanin, a molecule that protects your skin by absorbing or deflecting UV rays. Melanocytes produce more melanin after exposure to the sun, in particular after skin damage in the form of a sunburn. Sunburn occurs when skin is exposed to excessive UVR from the sun or in a tanning bed.
People with light skin are more prone to sunburn because they have less melanin. But dark skinned individuals can also get sunburned because dark pigments do not block out 100% of UV rays.
No matter your skin color, it is recommended that you wear sunscreen for prolonged sun exposure because damaging sun exposure increases your chance of developing skin cancer.
Photo from 123RF
The coming of summer means lazy weekends by the pool, taking a trip to the ocean, swimming in the lake, and spending lots of time in swimsuits. What many don’t realize is that the summer brings an increased risk to men and women for getting a UTI. A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria passes through the urethra and travels up into the bladder or kidneys to multiply in the urinary tract. One’s swimming hygiene habits, or lack thereof can increase risk for developing recreational water illnesses, especially UTIs.
Swimming pools can be a breeding ground for germs if there is a combination of urine or fecal matter in the water, people not showering before swimming, and low levels of chlorine. Be sure to talk to the pool staff about their measures to ensure the water is adequately disinfected and decontaminated.
In rare cases, a bacterium known as Pseudomonas aeruginosa can cause UTI associated with hot tubs. When it comes to swimming in lakes or beaches, avoid those with high bacterial levels. It should also be noted that it is less safe to pee in the still water of a lake than the moving waves of the ocean.
Lower your chances of getting a UTI by changing out of wet bathing suits as soon as possible. Germs tend to grow best in warm, moist places. Women are more prone to UTI due to their tight-fitting swimsuits and anatomically shorter urethra that gives easier access to the bladder. Since the summer’s heat and humidity can increase the risk for UTIs, always be sure to drink plenty of fluids to help flush out bacteria through the urinary tract.