It is important to get some sunshine daily for the hormones, vitamins and circadian rhythm. But, you need to do so responsibly. JOY DUFFIELD provides some insights

We are so blessed to live in sunny South Africa where we have sun all year round! The sunshine stimulates our happy hormone, serotonin. Other benefits of sunshine include regulating the circadian rhythm which can get you drowsy when the sun goes down; and increases vitamin D which assists with calcium absorption.

Unfortunately, there is also a bad side to the sun as it is known to be the main cause of skin cancers. The sun’s rays are made up of UVA, which is the main cause of premature ageing, UVB, which responsible for burning the skin, and UVC, which get absorbed by the ozone.

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is abnormal cells found along the epidermis, which is the most outer layer of the skin. These abnormal cells can mutate and multiply to develop into malignant tumours. There are three different types of skin cancers, Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Merkel Cell Carcinoma.

The good news is that if skin cancer is detected early enough, dermatologist are able to treat it with really good results before it spreads below the skin.

Cancer and skin colour

Fair skin that burns easily is at a higher risk of developing skin cancer. The same goes for people with blonde hair, light-coloured eyes, those with moles and/or family history of cancer. This, however, does not mean that darker skins can’t get skin cancer!

In fact, skin cancer is often detected at a later stage on darker skin tones, which can make the prognosis so much worse. Melanoma, which is the most serious skin cancer, originates in the melanocyte, which is the cell that gives the skin its colour.

A little note on melanomas: They can often be found in areas such as soles of the feet, palms of the hand and fingernail beds.

Protecting ourselves

Persons in wheelchairs have certain areas that are more vulnerable such as tops of the head, tops of the hands and feet.

To help protect against the damage caused by the sun, limit the amount of time spent in sun between 10h00 and 15h00; wear protective clothing and sunglasses; and make use of, at least, a factor 15 sunscreen daily.


“Skin cancer is often detected at a later stage on darker skin tones.”


Simply put, the easier your skin burns, the higher the sun protection factor should be on your sunscreen. Pick a UVA and UVB sunscreen, and reapply every two hours if outdoors.

For those who keep their skins golden with the help of a tanning bed, remember that you are no safer as these bed still contain UVA rays.

Most importantly, remember to check your skin – or allow somebody else to check your skin – all over once a month for any abnormal marks or changes in existing moles. Changes in a mole may include asymmetry, an irregular border, changing colour, shape or bleeding.

Be cool, stay in the shade and remember to reapply that sunscreen.


Joy Duffield is a C4 – C5 quadriplegic since 2005. Married with no children, she founded the Beauty Academy International in 2002. She was also a finalist in the entrepreneur category for the Business Woman Association (BWA) in 2015.



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