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Why you should have a friend with albinism

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albino skin cancer albinismMy friend, Fred Akimuyisitan, is a great man. Everyone that has come in contact with him will attest to this without a second thought. Freddie has a Midas touch and it has made him succeeded in everything he has laid his hands on.

Like he would say: “You must know something about everything,” little wonder why he comfortably switched from being a food technologist to one of the best advertising strategists the country can boast of and why not? He is one of the think tanks of one of the best agencies managing a leading network provider in the country and of course, his wits, intelligence and ability to break new grounds as made him a sure example of the social media meme: Na dem dey rush us.

There is something that makes everyone wants to be around him: his intelligence is infectious… but those that don’t know him enough just get attracted and amused by his colour and they somehow don’t know how to hide their muse, but Freddie knows how to stay on top of situations and never gets bothered by what your eyes say about his colour…

Freddie is not my focus point today as he seems to know how to stay colourful and sassy.

Someone called my attention to a very important thread on Twitter about how a senior registrar in Dermatology in the Department of Internal Medicine at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Dr Folakemi Cole-Adeife, helped a petty trader and albino young mother of two who needed about N300, 000 for urgent surgery for skin cancer, got help from kind Nigerians in about 24 hours and over 41,000 retweets in six days!

While speaking with Dr Cole-Adeife, she was emphatic about what she wanted from this: Help create awareness and educate people about albinism and some of the misconceptions our people have.

“People with albinism are prone to skin cancer because they lack melanin in their skin,” she started. “Albinism is a genetic disorder caused by a genetic mutation found in some people that make their skin unable to produce melanin. The scientific term for albinism is Oculocutaneous albinism because it involves the skin, hair and the eyes.”

“People who live in countries close to the equator (the tropics) with more intense sunlight like Nigeria, India and Brazil tend to have more melanin and are darker in colour, because they require more sun protection. And the further away from the equator people are, the lighter their skin because there are fewer requirements for melanin in temperate climate countries. Skin colour, despite all the prejudice and idiosyncrasy surrounding it, is merely a natural, adaptive, protective mechanism for humans.”

Sadly, in some African countries they are literally hunted and killed because it is believed that their body parts can bring great fortune.

People with albinism are very beautiful, but their unique skin and hair colours, especially in a predominantly black society often make them the centre of attraction. They are revered in some cultures, maligned in some and hunted in others.

In some parts of Nigeria people with albinism are seen as harbingers of good fortune and are praised or celebrated.

The main principle for taking care of albinism skin is sun protection and more sun protection and according to Dr Cole-Adeife, the notion that albinos should not eat salt it is a myth. There is no scientific evidence to support this.

“Sun protection must start from birth. Mothers with albino children need to be educated about protecting their albino child from the sun.

“Albino children in school should be allowed to wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers instead of shorts. They should also wear hats while in school and must not be required to do anything that will keep them under direct sunlight for long.

“Sun protective clothing must always be worn especially when outdoors and hats and sunglasses worn. Good moisturisers and sunscreen creams are also extremely important and sunscreen should be applied to exposed areas (face neck and arms) two to three times daily. People with albinism should avoid walking outdoors between the hours of 11am and 3pm when the sun is most intense. Umbrellas should also be used when walking outdoors.

“Whenever people with albinism develop skin rashes or sores they must see a Dermatologist as soon as possible to exclude the possibility of skin cancer. Most skin cancers are easily treated in the early stages with topical medications but once they become large and extensive, surgical treatment is required.  Early presentation to a specialist is safer and cheaper,” she advised.

The post Why you should have a friend with albinism appeared first on Tribune.

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