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tine, agreed Dr. Derick, who pointed to rising melanoma
rates in young women as a cause for concern. “This is why
programs like Play Safe in the Sun are so important,” she
said, referring to her work with the Women’s Dermatologic
Society (WDS) program which educates outdoor enthusiasts about the importance of sun safety. Play Safe in the
Sun offers skin cancer screenings, sun safety education and
free sunscreen at large outdoor sporting events, such as the
LPGA Solheim Cup and the Ping Junior Solheim Cup golf
events this past summer.
Hands-on marketing efforts can help drive the message
home, but so can the use of sophisticated tools such as UV
photography. For instance, Eucerin offered attendees at the
recent BlogHer ‘09 conference in Chicago the chance to see
their skin in the Beiersdorf “Time Machine” Aging Simulator.
By doing so, many of the top female bloggers were able to
visualize the aging process and see how their lifestyles today
will effect their skin tomorrow—and hopefully they will start
spreading the word about UV protection.
Get ‘Em While They’re Young
This “picture-is-worth-a-1000-words” tactic may turn out to
have the biggest impact on today’s youth. Researchers from
Boston University School of Medicine and the Children’s
Melanoma Prevention Foundation collaborated on an intervention program with middle school students in which all students received a sun protection lecture. The intervention
group also received a UV photograph of their face that
showed pigment changes from chronic sun exposure along
with detailed explanations of their findings.
According to the researchers, less than 36% reported sunburns in the intervention group at the two-month follow-up,
as compared with the control group (57%). Students generally reported that the UV photograph was a helpful tool in
teaching risk factors for skin cancer, according to the findings,
which were published in the April 2009 issue of the Journal
of the Dermatology Nurses’ Association.
Efforts to educate and empower children are critical when it
comes to increased compliance. While parents may be vigilant
about protection during the summer, there is still plenty of
room for improvement.
According to the BabyCenter Summer Safety Survey
released this July with Neutrogena, 36% of moms let their
children go outdoors without sunscreen, and only 45% of
moms only apply sunscreen on their children when they will
be outdoors for more than 30 minutes.
Experts have come to recognize that the sun protection message needs to be reinforced outside the home if there is to be
sea change in habits here in the U.S.
“Sun safety education starts at home and children can be
educated about sun safety but if it is not demonstrated in the
home there will be little behavioral change,” said Tamika J.
Peay, executive director of Richard David Kann (RDK)
Melanoma Foundation, the West Palm Beach, FL organization which has created SunSmart America, a K-12th grade
curriculum that can be used in physical education, health, science and English classes.