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Kids Protect Skin Better After Being Shown Sun Damage Results

Posted: April 24, 2009

Showing middle-school students ultraviolet photographs that reveal the sun damage to their faces makes them less likely to get sunburns in the months following, new research says, encouraging skin care professionals to speak to kids about good sun care.

Researchers recruited 111 students aged 11 to 13 from Quincy, Massachusetts, which had a melanoma rate higher than expected from 1999 to 2003. After receiving a sun protection lecture, 83 students also received a UV photograph of their face that shows pigment changes from chronic sun exposure and an explanation of the damage. Twenty-eight students in the control group heard the lecture but did not have a photo taken.

After two months, 36% of the group shown the photos reported getting a sunburn, compared to 57% of those who didn't have a UV photo taken. After six months, 51% of intervention group reported a sunburn, compared to 64% of the control group.

Students said that the UV photo was a helpful tool in teaching risk factors for skin cancer, and the majority had kept them. The preteens with the highest risk factors for melanoma, such as facial freckles, were more greatly impacted and were significantly less likely to report sunburn at two months and again in six months.

The study was published in the April issue of the Journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association.