Awareness on sun exposure

UV radiation exposure and fair skin phototype are the most common risk factors for developing cutaneous melanoma in general population.

In Trieste, a seaside town in North-eastern Italy, residents are mainly fair skinned and blue eyes because of their Celtic and Austro-Hungarian origins. The peculiarity of the inhabitants of this town is their unrestrained sun exposure, mainly for traditional and cultural reasons. People usually have sun baths during lunch time because the seashores are easily reached from the city centre.

This habit lasts usually from April to October and involves both young and old people. As a consequence, the rate of skin melanomas in this Italian town is higher than the national rate. Therefore, educational programmes are pivotal to change high risk sun exposure behaviours.

Researchers and professors of the Dermatology Unit of the University of Trieste lectured in high school classes on the effect of UV radiation exposure and on the protection measures to be used during sun exposure.

During the school year 2021-2022 seven lectures were given to adolescents with the aim of raising awareness on sun exposure. It is, indeed, well known that childhood and adolescence sun burns represent a risk for developing skin melanomas. Of note, during those events at least 50% of students reported frequent sun burns during their seaside activities highlighting the necessity of developing age-specific information campaign for improving sun exposure protection measures.

Serena Bonin, University of Trieste