Albinism is a condition characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes due to absence or defect of an enzyme involved in the production of melanin. All races of the human species have melanin in their skin. Skin pigmentation is determined by the amount of melanin present: the more melanin the darker the skin. Melanin is only absent in cases of albinism, which also occur in every race. In Africa the condition is more common, and African albinos are a particularly besieged group whose members are often shunned as outcasts and some of them die of skin cancer before they reach 30.
Thus, the most critical care of people living with albinism is to protect their skin against direct sunlight. Thus, during the day, they have to wear hats, sunglasses and, most importantly, apply sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF).
People with albinism should use sunscreens labeled SPF of 20 to 30. “SPF” means “sun protection factor.” This number comes from a standard test in a laboratory. The test measures the time it takes people wearing a standard amount of sunscreen to sunburn under a standard ultraviolet lamp, compared to the time with no sunscreen.
It is due to this need that under the campaign ‘Color Kwa Face’ by Nonini that an awareness is being created to educate the public on the predicaments of Persons Living with Albinism in Kenya especially as we approach the sunny months of the year.