Survey Shows What Youth Think of Sun Protection

A survey shows that while youth understand the importance of sun protection, they're still getting sunburns. A dermatologist reacts to the results.

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CLEVELAND – Skin cancer is considered the most common cancer in the United States.

Experts say skin protection among youth is the most effective way to help prevent new cases, but according to a survey, less than one-third of youth between 11 and 18 years old regularly use sun protection.

“I think that even though they understand the importance, that they can’t take in exactly what that means for their health and part of it is, a lot of what we discuss is; why it’s important is about their health in the future, not at the moment,” explained Joan Tamburro, MD, pediatric dermatologist for Cleveland Clinic Children’s.

Dr. Tamburro said the survey offered some interesting insights into how youth view sun protection.

For example, a majority polled believe it’s important to protect their skin from the sun and say they use sunscreen – but many still reported getting one or more sunburns.

Dr. Tamburro said that’s likely due to them not properly applying sunscreen in the first place or not regularly reapplying it while out in the sun.

To increase the use of sun protection among youth, those polled made a couple of suggestions, like demonstrating the consequences of sun exposure and increasing product accessibility.

“I think it was a very good point and as we look at some other countries, they do better even at accessibility of sunscreen at public pools or public locations,” she said. “When we talk about the dollars spent per year in this country on skin cancer, you know is it worth us all to say let’s put money toward that and have it in locations where they can easily access it.”

Dr. Tamburro recommends parents show their kids how to apply sunscreen at an early age, so they continue those habits when they get older.

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