Very few adult skiers and snowboarders show full compliance with sunscreen advice, especially with the advice to reapply sunscreen after two hours, according to a study published in the January issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
David B. Buller, Ph.D., from Klein Buendel Inc. in Golden, Colo., and colleagues examined the extent of compliance with sunscreen advice among 4,837 adult skiers and snowboarders at 28 high-altitude ski areas in western North America. Participants were surveyed from January through April in 2001 and 2002. The use of sunscreen, its sun protection factor (SPF), time of first application, and reapplication were self-reported by the respondents.
The investigators found that full compliance with all sunscreen advice was seen for only 4.4 percent of adults. Compliance with advice recommending SPF 15 or higher was seen in 49.8 percent of the participants. Although 73.2 percent of participants wearing sunscreen applied it 30 minutes before starting their skiing/snowboarding, only 20.4 percent were compliant with advice to reapply it after two hours. Inclement weather, low-ultraviolet days, male gender, a belief that skin cancer was unimportant, and low sun-sensitive skin were associated with lowest total compliance. Sunscreen advice compliance correlated positively with wearing hats with a brim and lip balm.
"Although the recommendation to use SPF 15 or higher sunscreen has reached many adults, the reapplication advice is heeded by few adults and needs to be highlighted in future sun safety promotions," the authors write.
Two of the study authors disclosed financial ties to Klein Buendel Inc., a research firm specializing in the development of programs to change health behavior and prevent chronic diseases, including skin cancer.
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For more information on sunscreens, read Dr. Vincent DeLeo's editorial "Finally, the Final Rule on OTC Sunscreen Drug Products."