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Persons with Albinism at greater risk of skin cancer — Consultant Dermatologist

BY: Joycelyn Kyei-Baffuor
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

A CONSULTANT Dermatologist at the Euracare Advanced Diagnostics and Heart Centre in Accra, Dr Jeannette Aryee Boi, has advised persons with albinism to limit their exposure to the sun.

This she explains will reduce their risk of getting skin cancer. In an interview with the Mirror last Wednesday, she explained that persons with the condition have extremely sensitive skins, hence the need for them to protect it from the sun.

“The sun shines most from midday to about 4 p.m. So for those with the condition who are into farming or trading, they should ensure that at such times, they are not exposed to the sun. Even if they have to step out, they should ensure they are in protective clothing; their face and neck should not be exposed. They could wear hats and sunglasses.

There is also the sunscreen lotion, but I wonder if everybody can afford it,” she said . ‘Anytime they step out, it should be applied. Even if you don’t have albinism, limit your exposure to the sun,” she recommended.

Prevalence in Ghana According to Dr Aryee-Boi, data form the World Health Organisation indicates that in 2018, 146 persons representing 0.07 per cent died from the condition and between 20 to 25 per cent of persons with albinism were likely to get skin cancer.

Risk factors She indicated that a family history of skin cancer, having moles, which is an overgrowth of melanocytes (a type of skin cell) on your palms or soles of your feet, can expose one to the condition. “I want the public to pay attention to old scars.

Anytime you notice any changes, report immediately to a dermatologist. This applies to healed lepers, persons with lupus and leg ulcers that are not healing and persons who contract the Human papiloma virus (HPV), because they are at risk of penis carcinoma,” she said.

Skin care tips The Consultant Dermatologist also encouraged the public to take good care of their skin. “Try as much as possible to always moisturise your skin.

The skin should not be dry. For instance, if the skin on your feet cracks, it exposes the area to infections. Same applies with walking barefooted. You can end up picking a fungal infection,” she said.

She advised a limit on the use of strong detergents as they end up removing the oil from the skin, making it dry and prone to infections. Dr Aryee-Boi asked that personal items like sponges, towels, combs and pillows should not be shared. “If you visit the barber‘s shop, you can take your own items like a blade because if they are not well sterilised, children, especially boys, could get ringworm infection.

She also advised persons with oily skin to avoid creams that contained corticosteroids, since they could end up bleaching their skins. “If you have an oily skin, try as much as possible to use oil free cosmetics”, she added.