Children are most at risk group to UV damage yet little is done by parents who are unaware of consequences: Survey

Nearly 61 per cent of parents said they don’t know what are proper sun protection habits for their children

When it comes to sun protection, parents see no need for their children to start practicing proper sun protection habits, despite individuals receiving 50% of their lifetime UV radiation exposure before they turn 20, according to a survey conducted by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) students. The survey was done as part of a health communications campaign titled SunWise.

While 79.4 per cent agreed that sun protection can reduce the risk of skin cancer in the future, only a minimal 10 per cent of parents would tell their children to apply sunscreen regularly, according to results from a survey of 170 parents with primary school children.

Related Read: Sunscreens Safe For Kids To Use

This is despite current figures from the Singapore Cancer Registry (2017) which reflect a rising incidence of younger people being diagnosed with skin cancer in Singapore. Over the past decade, skin cancer cases have also risen in Singapore, with skin cancer ranking as the 6th most common cancer among males, and 7th among females.

In partnership with Singapore Cancer Society, these form the basis of final-year campaign SunWise by four undergraduate students from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI), NTU.

SunWise marks Singapore’s first non-profit health communications campaign that raises awareness among parents to encourage early adoption of proper sun protection habits for their children.

Why The Need to Start Early: Accumulative UV Damage from Young

Why do parents not care about UV protection? As the effects of UV damage are slow-setting, parents fail to see the need or urgency to cultivate proper habits for their children from young.

However, medical experts warn against this as UV damage is cumulative over a person’s lifetime.

“There’s always a lag between the development of impacts such as skin cancer or photoageing and exposure to the sun, so the severity really depends on how much exposure a person accumulates through the years,” said Dr. Colin Theng, Dermatologist, The Skin Specialists & Laser Clinic.

“Usually it’s 20 to 30 years later that all these changes start to develop, that’s why sun protection has to start at a very young age – prevention is key for this.”

Medical Experts Debunk Common Myths among Singaporean Parents

What are some of the most common myths among parents about properly protecting their children or about the effects of UV damage? Here, we have expert dermatologists, Dr. Cheong Lai Leng, LL Cheong Skin & Laser Clinic and Dr. Colin Theng, The Skin Specialists & Laser Clinic to debunk some of the top few misconceptions.

common sun protection myths debunkedVisit Why is Sun Protection Important? for text view.

Letting Parents Go Worry-Free with Four Easy Steps

sun screen to protect against harmful uv rays

To keep it simple for parents to let their children have fun under the sun, SunWise has come up with a simple four-step guide to properly protect their children:

  1. Applying SPF 30 and broad-spectrum sunscreen on exposed skin at least 20 minutes before going outdoors daily. Sunscreen should be reapplied after every 2 hours.
  2. Wearing UV-protection sunglasses especially when spending long hours in the sun.
  3. Wearing a hat or cap especially when engaging in outdoor activities.
  4. Seeking shade when the UV index levels are the highest (i.e. between 11am to 3pm).

Through a combination of digital and roadshow outreaches, SunWise encourages parents to play an active role in promoting proper sun protective behaviour among their children.

SunWise previously held roadshow outreaches at Heartbeat@Bedok and will be participating in the upcoming Relay for Life 2020 organised by Singapore Cancer Society on the 15 to 16 February 2020.*

To learn more about SunWise, visit facebook.com/SunWiseSG or instagram.com/sunwisesg.

*Relay for Life 2020 was cancelled in lieu of the recent 2019 Novel Coronavirus (CoViD-19)

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