Teens Get the Message to Stay Sun-Safe by Texting

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Turns out, your cell phone—that ever-present device attached to your ear—isn’t just for talking, taking selfies and texting your besties—it could actually save someone’s skin and, potentially, their life.

The critical role cell phones can actually play in skincare rang true in Australia, a country with the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, after a University of Queensland study found that text messages effectively promoted sun protection among 500 18- to 42-year-olds.

The 12-month “Healthy Text” study, published earlier this year in Preventive Medicine, tested the impact of text messages promoting sun protection and early detection of skin cancer through self-exams.

The lead researcher noted: “Text messages are an acceptable and feasible way to reach people, particularly those under 45, with personalized skin cancer prevention texts, which take into account a person’s age, skin type, gender and risk factors.”

The texts reminded the groups to wear sunscreen and sun-smart clothing while limiting their time in the sun between 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Separate texts to another group emphasized the importance of self-examinations in preventing skin cancer.

Conversational text messages, the researcher says, “are highly effective in promoting personal responsibility and providing positive reinforcement.”

In the end, the safe suncare text campaign was a huge success, with self-exams increasing from 37% to 63% among participants.

Got the Message? Now Spread the Word: Post Your Suncare Tips

Reach out to your social community and your family (especially those teenagers) and spread the word. Many people have their Facebook and Twitter accounts linked to their phones, alerting them of new messages. Coach your social network to apply sunscreen daily and reapply often. Recommend they wear a broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen like REDEFINE Triple Defense Treatment, and remind them to perform self-exams, checking for any skin irregularities, like new spots or those that change in size, shape, feel or color. For a step-by-step tutorial on self-exam, visit http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/early-detection/step-by-step-self-examination.

With the summer season upon us, now’s the perfect time to start a social suncare campaign. #Sunscreen

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