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Teens and Melanoma

By: Carl Thornfeldt, MD, FAAD
Posted: April 29, 2011, from the May 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Because no sunscreen blocks every photon of light striking the skin’s surface, it should ideally also contain a blend of anti-inflammatory agents or antioxidants. Another major preventive strategy is to recommend skin care products that help reduce the effects of chronic inflammatory factors in the skin while repairing and strengthening the skin barrier to help provide better protection from the sun’s harmful rays.

More than half of the states in the United States now have legislation in place that restricts or bans indoor tanning without parental consent for minors, but laws alone are not going to stop teens from tanning. Altering the public mind-set is required to make a change in this country’s rising teen and young adult skin cancer statistics.

A study conducted in the Texas cities of Dallas and Houston involved 210 junior high and high school students, ages 12–18, that tested general knowledge of sun exposure and melanoma. After the first exam was completed, the students were then provided correct answers with detailed explanations for each test item. The participants were then given a second exam to measure the effect of the educational piece on future sun exposure practices. It was concluded that students 12–15 years old were significantly more likely to change future behavior after learning about skin cancer prevention and melanoma.7

Skin care professionals must seize this incredible opportunity to educate younger clients and consumers about the dangers of sun exposure, the importance of protecting their skin daily and how to shift the attitude that pale skin, rather than tanned skin, is the real look of healthy beauty.

Reach out

Now is the time to reach out beyond your customer base to provide skin cancer education to your community. Consider sending your lead esthetician with a UV skin scope to visit local junior high and high school health classes, or volunteer at community education classes to teach skin cancer awareness and prevention. For more ideas, see Skin Care Awareness Initiatives.