Geraldine Waked
Director General

Change of Habit Required for Wellness

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 17:17

Skin diseases are varied and although skin-care advertising often targets women, men and particularly children are vulnerable groups that are often overlooked. “We need to learn to have healthy eating habits but also to keep our skin healthy. Skin cancer is not an adult disease,” says Geraldine Waked, Director General of Sesderma, a Spanish dermatology laboratory founded in 1989.

“We have to raise awareness among the population and among mothers that they should not send children to school without sun protection,” Waked says. She points out that 100 percent cloud coverage only blocks 20 percent of UV rays. Also, SPF only blocks UVB rays, responsible for sunburn, but not UVA rays, responsible for premature aging and cancer. In addition, these rays are stronger at higher elevations, a factor to be considered in mountainous Mexico that sits at a mean elevation of 1,111m. Add in pollution that is prevalent in cities like the country’s capital and there is a double threat to children’s health. “Children in cities like Mexico City often are not taught about pollution and even when an emergency contingency is in place, there is never talk of protection,” Waked adds. The WHO notes that children are more at risk of suffering from side-effects of air pollution due to the immaturity of their respiratory organs, and that those in middle-income countries are among those most impacted. A map the WHO released in September 2016 shows the extent of air pollution globally: 92 percent of the world’s cities breathe polluted air, and so does much of Mexico with the worst rates seen in Monterrey, Toluca and Salamanca, according to a WHO 2016 report.

The male population is another segment that is often overlooked, Waked says. “Men are beginning to use solar protection more and more,” says Waked, explaining that men suffer from the same skin diseases and conditions as women, although skincare is mostly perceived as a female market. “Publicity is always focused on women, but really, the purchasing level is similar between men and women,” she says.

The Mexican Society of Oncology (SMeO) reports that the number of malignant melanomas doubles every decade and that 5-10 percent of skin-cancer patients have a family history of the disease. “Skin cancer is the worst skin affliction. It is becoming increasingly common, especially in Mexico,” says Waked. One of the main issues faced in Mexico is the lack of awareness around skin protection. Many people do not wear sun screen, even though Mexico City sees an average of 200-270 hours of sun per month. “The dermatology industry’s eyes are set on Mexico as the country with the most potential in Latin America,” says Waked.