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The skinny on skin types

May 22, 2012|By Mick Swasko, RedEye

Are you super-sensitive to the sun, or is your skin ultra-tolerant to its rays? Everyone is at risk, but Lisa Richman, executive director of the Richard David Kann Melanoma Foundation, offers five notable facts you might not know.

It's in the genes

Eye and hair color, as well as sun risk, are genetic factors that help determine one's skin tone. Light-blue-eyed redheads are likely to be more at risk to harmful sun rays, while those with black hair and dark brown skin run less of a risk.

Block party

Dark skinned or light skinned, sunscreen is recommended for everyone. Those with fairer skin should wear an SPF 30+ sunblock whenever they plan to be outside, and those who have darker skin should wear SPF 15 or higher. In all cases, a monthly self-exam of skin for irregularities and yearly visit to the dermatologist is recommended.

Hidden danger?

Though melanoma is uncommon among African-Americans, Latinos and Asians, it is deadlier for those populations as symptoms and irregularities are more likely to develop without being detected.

Not the same

No matter what one's skin type is, Richman said the foundation advises against indoor tanning. She said minutes under a tanning lamp can equate to hours of exposure to natural sunlight.

Early action

Sun exposure for those under 18 is extremely important in determining risk factors for skin cancer later in life. Those who burned frequently before 18 are at a higher risk for problems when they are older.

SOURCE: The Fitzpatrick Skin Typing Test

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