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Children and Sun Exposure in the Northeast of Italy


Address correspondence to Giuseppe Stinco, M.D., Institute of Dermatology, University of Udine, Via Battiferro 1, 33010 Gemona del Friuli (UD), Italy, or e-mail:


Abstract:  Excessive, incorrect exposure to the sun at a young age can be a risk factor for skin cancer at a later age. In this study we have investigated the exposure and protection habits of a group of children to see whether there are behavioral errors that should and possibly could be corrected. We handed out a multiple-choice questionnaire to 310 subjects, 212 boys and 98 girls between the ages of 6 and 14, all residents in the province of Udine in the northeastern part of Italy. Of these children, 24% had sunburn on several occasions; boys were four times more at risk than girls (OR = 0.4) and the frequency reduced by 30% for each skin phototype class higher. In children between 11 and 14 years of age, exposure was prolonged (43% for 2–4 hours, 38% for 4–8 hours) and 30% preferred peak hours. Eighty percent of the children, mostly girls, younger children (6–10), and the lower skin phototypes used sunscreens, but only 38% used them on a regular basis, whereas 20% applied them after sunbathing and 42% used a single daily application. Two percent of the children used sunglasses and 5% wore a T-shirt regularly. The dermatologist and pediatrician play an important role in advising parents that the sun is good for children, but appropriate measures must be taken to reduce any risks, both immediately and in the long term.