Photo courtesy the American Academy of Dermatology
Recently reported findings from a survey by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) revealing encouraging news regarding the public attitude toward sun protection. The key finding is that more parents are reporting that protecting their children from the sun is important to them.
In a press release, the AAD revealed that some 74% of surveyed U.S. parents reported that they worry more about sun protection with their children than their own parents did with them.
As well, 90% reported that they believe that teaching their children healthy behaviours when the children are young will help them keep those good habits as they grow up.
“Research shows that it only takes one blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence to nearly double a person’s risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, later in life,” said dermatologist Dr. Ali Hendi, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., in the release. “It is great news that more parents today are aware of the risks associated with sun exposure and recognize the importance of protecting their children from the sun.”
The increased awareness could stem from increased knowledge about skin cancer prevention and sun protection, said Dr. Hendi, signalling that public education on these topics might be paying off. The release mentions that the majority of those surveyed said they were aware that it is possible to be sunburned on a cloudy day; that sunscreen has an expiration date; and that people with dark skin tones can also develop skin cancer.
Dr. Hendi’s patient Sharman Dudley, a mother of two, was also quoted in the release. Diagnosed with melanoma four times, Dudley said that she is grateful her skin cancers were detected early, when they were most treatable. Dudley said that her own experience makes her particularly mindful of her children’s skin health.
“While we still enjoy the outdoors, having melanoma has changed the way I plan our activities outdoors, like making sure to find or create shade during periods of peak sunlight,” she said. “We also don’t leave our house without wearing sunscreen and bringing wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses with UV protection, and lightweight and long-sleeved shirts that we can throw on when needed.”
However, while it is good news that most parents prioritize sun protection for their kids, the parents are not necessarily taking the same level of care with themselves. According to the survey, 40% of survey respondents reported that they have applied sunscreen to their kids but did not apply it to themselves.
“Sun protection is important at every stage of life, from childhood to adulthood,” said Dr. Hendi.