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Many Younger Adults Lack Sun Protection Knowledge

Survey shows lack of knowledge may lead to behaviors that contribute to sun damage, skin cancer

By Physician's Briefing Staff | July 12, 2022

Many Generation Z adults, aged 18 to 25 years, are not aware of the dangers of overexposure to the sun and are not taking steps to protect themselves from it, according to the results of a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults released by the American Academy of Dermatology.

The authors of the survey found that more than one-quarter of young respondents (27 percent) were under the false impression that having a base tan decreases the risk for developing skin cancer. More than one-third (38 percent) said tanning is safe as long as you do not burn. Half (49 percent) were unaware that you can get sunburned on a cloudy day. Additionally, more than one-third (37 percent) did not know that ultraviolet rays can penetrate clothing. Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of respondents did not know sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours when outdoors. More than one in five respondents (22 percent) reported seeing signs of sun damage now, and 28 percent said they did not know sun exposure would age their skin.

"It's frustrating that people still think a tan looks healthy and that a base tan is going to protect you," Brittany Craiglow, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist from the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, said in a statement. "Just because you're not burning doesn't mean your skin isn't getting damaged. All that ultraviolet damage is cumulative so what you're doing now will affect you in your future. As a dermatologist and a skin cancer survivor, I want to educate others so that they don't make the same mistakes that I did."

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