The children and sunscreen study

Queensland has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world.  This is not surprising given we have high levels of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) all year around and a pre-dominantly sun-sensitive population.  Childhood sun exposure is thought to be a key risk factor for skin cancer development.  Therefore, it is important that Queensland children are adequately protected from the sun.

Sunscreen, reportedly children’s preferred method of sun protection, has been found to reduce the risk of some skin cancers, including melanoma.  Sunscreen needs to be applied at the recommended amount of 2mg/cm2 to reach the sun protection factor (SPF). Studies conducted with adults have repeatedly shown that not enough sunscreen is used.  It was not currently known if chidlren applied their sunscreen at an adequate thickness.

The aim of this project was to measure the thickness at which primary school children apply their sunscreen.  Additionally, we aimed to identify a sunscreen dispenser that was most/least suitable for children’s use and an age at which parents may allow children to be responsible for their own applications.