A study in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association found sunburn prevention is needed most among young adults, specifically those with darker skin.
“The concern here is that participants with high melanin content skin may think they’re naturally protected from sunburn, which isn’t true,” says researcher Tracy Favreau, DO. “We need to develop tailored sunburn prevention programs to change attitudes and risk of melanoma.”
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. Dr. Favreau adds that melanoma is the most predominant type of cancer for people 25 to 29 years old and the second most predominant for people 15 to 29 years old.
“Osteopathic medicine is largely focused on prevention, and melanoma caused by sun exposure is imminently preventable,” she notes. Dr. Favreau is an osteopathic dermatologist in Florida, where the survey was conducted.
The survey found people 18 to 29 years old with melanin rich skin were more likely to report having red or painful sunburn. The authors believe that this group of people may have a false sense of invincibility to sunburn.
Osteopathic medical student and lead author Sergey Arutyunyan, OMS IV, thinks there may be opportunities through technology and social media to better target young people to use sun protection.
“We may need an app that gamifies sun protection and rewards taking precautions. Simply warning of the danger is not having an effect,” Arutyunyan says.
Read the JAOA study to learn more.