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Few Europeans Use Photoprotection All Year Round

Only 56 percent of Europeans were aware that sun protection is useful when weather is overcast

By Dermsquared Editorial Team | September 14, 2022

Few Europeans use photoprotection all year round, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, held from Sept. 7 to 10 in Milan.

Thierry Passeron, M.D., Ph.D., from University Hospital Center Nice in France, and colleagues surveyed 6,000 participants in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Russia to examine knowledge and behaviors relating to sun exposure in Europe versus other continents. The survey was part of a broader survey, with 17,001 participants and conducted across five continents.

The researchers found that 82 percent of Europeans stated that tanned skin looks attractive and 73 percent indicated that a tan creates a healthy look, compared with 67 and 59 percent, respectively, outside of Europe. Awareness of sun-related skin health issues was reported by 92 percent of Europeans compared with 86 percent of non-Europeans. Europeans were also more aware of their skin aging risk (86 versus 79 percent). However, only 56 percent of Europeans and 64 percent of non-Europeans were aware that sun protection is useful when the weather is overcast. Only 16 percent of Europeans said they used photoprotection all year round compared with 27 percent outside of Europe. Europeans were less likely to systematically/often use all protective measures (i.e., wear a hat/cap, wear protective clothes, or stay in the shade), but they were more likely to systematically/often apply sunscreen.

"This research shows just how entrenched the 'healthy' suntan myth is," Passeron said in a statement. "We must drive awareness of the damage to skin cells caused by exposure to the sun, which can lead to photoaging and skin cancer."

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