Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. It can be caused by sun exposure. And a new survey shows a shocking number of kids and teens don't use sunscreen.
A survey by JAMA Network Open shows less than a third of kids ages 11-18 regularly use sun protection.
“I think that even though they understand the importance, 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," Dr. Joan Tamburro, a Dermatologist for Cleveland Clinic Children's, said.
She said the survey revealed some other insight into how our country’s youth view sun protection. For example, a majority polled say it’s important to protect your skin from the sun — and claim to use sunscreen — but many still reported getting sunburns. Dr. Tamburro said this is likely because those teens aren’t applying sunscreen correctly or regularly while out in the sun.
There are some ways to encourage more kids and teens to wear sunscreen. The ones surveyed suggested demonstrating the consequences of sun exposure and increasing accessibility to sunscreen.
“As we look at some other countries, they do better even at the accessibility of sunscreen at public pools or public locations, when we talk about the dollars that are spent per year in this country on skin cancer, is it worth us all to say 'Nope, let’s put money toward that and have it in locations where they can easily access it,'" she said.
Dr. Tamburro recommends parents show their kids how to apply sunscreen at an early age and encourage them to continue those habits when they get older.