Survey finds many adults lack basic sun safety knowledge

Young adults unaware of dangers of sun exposure

Survey finds many adults lack basic sun safety knowledge

With summertime inching closer and closer, it’s safe to assume that you’ll be spending some time outdoors soon.

But do you know how to protect your skin from all that fun in the sun?

A recent study from the American Academy of Dermatology found that a third of Americans failed a basic quiz on sun exposure -- and young adults did the worst. Experts were especially surprised by young adults’ lack of sun safety knowledge, since that generation grew up with their parents slathering them in sunscreen.

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Among those surveyed from Generation Z (those born after 1996):

  • 42 percent were unaware that tanning can cause skin cancer
  • 41 percent didn’t know that the sun’s ultraviolet rays are reflected by snow, water and sand
  • 33 percent didn’t think they could get sunburned on a cloudy day

Among millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996):

  • 37 percent were unaware that tanning can cause skin cancer
  • 23 percent didn’t believe that sunburns increase the risk of getting skin cancer

The fact is: Any color you get from the sun is damage to your skin.

Experts say younger generations must have missed the message on the importance of sunscreen from their parents.

“They didn’t know exactly why their parents were putting sunscreen on,” said dermatologist Dr. Carolyn Jacob. “They only did it when they went to the pool, or when they went to the beach. You have to get in the habit of actually wearing sunscreen every day if you’re going to be outside.”

As we head into summer, dermatologists recommend applying sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, wearing sun protective clothing and seeking shade when you can.

Surprisingly, of all the adults surveyed in the study, more than half didn’t know what shade offers protection from the sun’s harmful rays.

Want to test your knowledge of sun safety? Click here to take the #PracticeSafeSun quiz from the American Academy of Dermatology.

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About the Author:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.