During the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV) Congress, which has just ended in Slovenia, Pierre Fabre unveiled the results of its ’Sunscreen Assessment Family Experience (SAFE)’ study [1], which was conducted among 8,000 adults — parents and grandparents — in seven countries around the world during the summer months. And it is clear that adults and children are still not following health recommendations for sun protection.

Last year, at the height of the summer season, only about one-third of children received adequate sun protection while exposed during the hours of the day when the sun is at its strongest/ This figure drops to 13% for the adult population. And this isn’t the only recommendation that many don’t follow. While health professionals recommend applying sun protection at least every two hours during the periods of sunshine when risk is considered highest — between 11am and 5pm — only 18.5% of children have actually benefited from such assiduity.

"Between 50 and 80% of cumulative exposure occurs during early childhood and is the leading cause of most skin cancers," outlines Dr Ariadna Ortiz Brugués Medical Directorate at Laboratoires Dermatologiques Avène. However, the study shows that 32% of children had at least one sunburn during the summer; the average number of sunburns was two.

Lack of information

These behaviours could be explained by a lack of information on sun protection, as well as by certain misunderstandings that are clearly enduring, despite the prevention campaigns conducted each year. Nearly one out of two people surveyed (45%) admitted not knowing that UVB rays cause sunburn, 27% didn’t know that UVA rays accelerate skin aging, and more than a fifth of respondents are convinced that clouds protect from the sun.

However, these numbers could soon change dramatically for the better considering that many children take the matter seriously. Nearly 47% of them said they would apply sunscreen without the help of their parents. This is true in all the countries surveyed, from France (41%) to the United States (54%), as well as Spain (nearly 52%) and Germany (nearly 46%). And generally speaking, the youngest respondents showed that they were aware of the issues surrounding sun protection, up to 70%.