To mark the start of Sun Awareness Week, the British Association of Dermatologists today warns that British parents are confused about the need to protect their children in the sun, despite the fact that children and teenagers in the UK have the highest rates of skin cancers of any European country.
- According to a study on skin cancer incidence throughout Europe, the UK has the highest skin cancer rates both for children from birth to 14 and teenagers aged 15 to 19.
- Cases of melanoma - the deadliest type of skin cancer - increased four-fold in UK teenagers over just two decades (1978 to 1997).
Despite this alarming rise, a survey by the British Skin Foundation last year found that 25 per cent of British parents don’t think it necessary to apply sun protection to their children before they go to school in the summer months, even though many schools do not have shade in the playground.
The charity also found that 37 per cent of parents buy sunscreens with lower than the recommended SPF30 for their children.
Nina Goad of the British Association of Dermatologists said: “It is frightening that we have the highest rates of skin cancer in our children and teenagers than anywhere else in Europe - even more worrying when you consider that so many parents are still not adequately protecting their children in the sun.
“A four-fold increase in melanoma rates in teenagers, in just 20 years, is nothing short of terrifying.
"On the rare occasions that we do get good weather, of course we want to make the most of it – however, often we forget that we need to protect ourselves in the sun, and this is especially true for children whose skin is more sensitive to UV light.
“Sunburn as a child can as much as double the chances of skin cancer later in life, so kids need to be protected with sunscreen, clothing and shade when spending time outdoors on sunny days.”