Misconceptions of photoprotection in skin of color

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Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology


Terrestrial sunlight is the portion of electromagnetic radiation that is emitted by the sun and reaches Earth's surface. It encompasses 3 major components: UV radiation (290-400 nm), visible light (400-700 nm), and infrared radiation. The deleterious effects of UV radiation have been appreciated for decades, particularly among those with light skin tones (Fitzpatrick skin types I-II) who primarily manifest with burns of varying degrees of severity with sun exposure. In recent years, studies have increasingly shown the negative impact of visible light on skin health, particularly in individuals with skin of color (Fitzpatrick skin types IV-VI), including the exacerbation of hyperpigmentation disorders such as melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, as well as induction of the former. Recommendations from medical societies and the US Food and Drug Administration for photoprotection have been evolving along with the knowledge base. Yet, misconceptions about skin damage related to sunlight and the benefits of photoprotection (particularly among those with Fitzpatrick skin types V-VI) are still prevalent among both clinicians and patients. Among patients with skin of color, disorders of hyperpigmentation and other consequences from sun exposure have been associated with impaired skin health and negative burden on quality of life. This review summarizes currently available evidence of the impact of both UV and visible wavelengths and the low utilization of photoprotection measures among people with skin of color, with the goal of providing recommendations to help educate patients.

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ePub ahead of print





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