Culturally Specific Skin Conditions

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Just because you have Asian skin doesn’t mean you will escape skin cancer in the sunburnt country. 

While pale, white skin was prized in Asia a decade ago, many Asians are exposing themselves to “dangerous” skin practices when they come to Australia which has the second highest rate of skin cancer in the world.  

One study from The University of Adelaide that appeared in the European Journal Of Cancer Care  found more than half of young Asian Australians were tanning themselves to the point of severe burn at least once a year after they came to Australia. 

 “Compared to Caucasians, people with Asian skin are significantly less likely to get a melanoma or skin cancer, but when they do, they may present at a much more advanced stage because they have not grown up with the comprehensive skin cancer awareness campaigns in Australia,” says Aurora Dermatology’s Dr Parisa Arianejad. 

“The one thing we ALL have to remember here in the sunburnt country is that anyone who is exposed to the high levels of UV radiation in Australia  is at risk of skin cancer.” 

Other studies show that while  darker skinned people like Asians, African Americans and

Hispanic are less likely to get skin cancer, they are still significantly more

likely to die from it when they do because they don’t wear sunscreen and do

less skin checks.  

“Quite often even the GPs miss them, and I’ll see quite a few Asian patients every year with a BCC or melanoma who simply didn’t think it could happen to them,” says Dr Arianejad who also specialises in Middle Eastern conditions and is herself from Persia. 

“Several studies have now found that that as they adopt Western Culture, people of Asian, Middle Eastern and Hispanic heritage engage in more tanning behaviour and decreased levels of sun protection,” she says. 

“That’s why we all need to be skin aware and remember the ABCDE of skin cancer.”

 

Do you know your ABC’s of melanoma? 

 

A is for Asymmetry. 

Most melanomas the two halves don’t match, if you draw a line through it. 

 

B is for Border 

Uneven, notched edges compared to common moles that have even borders 

 

C is for Colour 

Benign moles are usually a single colour, where as melanoma maybe brown, black, tan, red, white or even blue. 

 

D is for diameter

“If a mole is bigger than an eraser on an HB pencil that’s a clear warning sign,” says Dr Arianejad. 

 

E is for evolving 

“Any change in size, colour shape or elevation of a spot should be investigated along with bleeding, itching or crusting of a sore or spot.    

Her other tip? 

Ask your hairdresser to check your scalp or a partner to blow cold air on your scalp as they search for moles. And download the SunSmart App and always apply sunscreen when the UV index is moderate – 3 or more.