How Skin Type Affects Skin Cancer Risk
A person’s skin type has a significant impact on their risk of developing skin cancer. Individuals with fair skin have the highest risk while those with darker skin have a lower risk of skin cancer. This is due to the fact that the melanin that gives the skin its color also serves as a natural protectant against sun damage. This does not mean that people with dark skin are immune from the risk of cancer, and they should still use sun protection and get regular skin exams with board-certified dermatologist and skin cancer specialist Dr. Hal Weitzbuch.
Type 1 Skin:
Individuals with this skin type are very prone to sunburns, sun damage, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Anyone with this type of skin should take precautions anytime they go outdoors, including using an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen, wearing clothes with a high ultraviolet protection rating, and staying in the shade as much as possible. These individuals should check their skin monthly for any suspicious lesions or growths and see a dermatologist annually for a total-body skin exam.
Type 2 Skin:
A person with type 2 skin rarely tans and is still at high risk for sun damage and various skin-related cancers. They should follow all of the same recommendations as for type 1 skin.
Type 3 Skin:
A person with type 3 skin may tan on occasion but frequently burns. When going outdoors, they should wear protective clothing and wear a sunscreen that is SPF 15 or higher. They should try to stay out of the direct sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the ultraviolet rays are the strongest. The should also perform monthly skin self-exams and see a dermatologist annually for an examination of the skin.
Type 4 Skin:
These individuals have a higher chance of tanning than those with type 3 skin, but they should still follow all of the same recommendations to protect their skin.
Type 5 Skin:
People with this skin type are those who tan easily and are not prone to sunburns. They should still use SPF 15 or higher sunscreen and seek shade from the direct midday sun. Individuals with this type of skin are more likely to develop a virulent form of cancer known as acral lentiginous melanoma, which typically develops on the palms, soles of the feet, and other areas not often exposed to direct sun. People with type 5 skin should follow the same recommendations regarding regular skin exams.
Type 6 Skin:
Individuals with this type of skin do not burn; however, they should follow all of the same precautions as individuals with type 5 skin.