The skin of PWA
All persons with albinism (PWA) are susceptible to skin cancer due to frequent exposure of their skin to the sun. Skin cancer constitutes of 80% of the health problems of PWA while other conditions such as freckles, moles and seborrboeic keratosis (growth) account for the rest. Unprotected exposure to the sun to PWA should be prevented at all cost since it is the major contributor of the above conditions. The main intervention measures undertaken to prevent this include:
- PWA should always use sunscreen lotion of at least 30 SPF (sun protection factor) for their skin daily. This protects against harmful UV sun rays
- Apply SPF 30 broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion liberally and frequently to sun exposed parts of the skin at least 30 minutes before going into the sun
- Use lip balm of SPF 30 liberally and frequently
- Wear a large, wide –brimmed hat with a brim between 12 cm to 15 cm wide made from tightly woven fabric to cover the ears, neck and face
- Wear clothing that covers your body for example long-sleeved shirts and blouses with a high collar to cover the arms and neck, long trousers or full length skirts to cover the legs
- Wear clothing that is made of tightly –woven natural fibers like thick cotton and silks to reduce sweating. Choose clothing whose material light does not shine through to minimize UV rays penetration
- PWA should avoid hard labor and especially outdoor activities under the sun or plan their outdoor activities either early in the morning or late evening when the sun rays are not strong
- PWA should undergo regular check-ups at the skin clinic or dermatologist to pick up any threats of skin problems
- Include vitamin D in the diets and lifestyle by eating vitamin D rich foods such as milk, fortified cereals, fatty fish, potatoes and eggs. This boosts the body’s ability to make its own vitamin D that essential for healthy skin
- PWA should avoid fluorescent light.
Skin care for Children with Albinism
- Consult a genetic counselor at a hospital closest to you. Join a support group for parents of CWA for sharing experiences and receiving helpful support
- Baby’s skin is sensitive; apply moisturizing cream, use glycerin soap while bathing them to avoid drying up the baby’s skin
- Keep your baby indoors as much as possible in the first six months after birth; better still for the first year. This however must not be interpreted as hiding the baby from people. Encourage family, relatives and friends to come see the baby at home and make them understand the reason the baby is not to be exposed to the sun.
- When going out dress the baby with clothes that cover the whole body.
Read more about parenting and albinism.