Survey Shows When it Comes to Skin Health, Beauty Trumps Sun Safety

Listen To Your Skin Campaign reveals people find skin an important part of attraction, but dangerous misperceptions about skin health prevail

Are you taking care of one the most appealing parts of your body? A new survey from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) and LEO Pharma shows that nearly all respondents (90 percent) said skin can be sexy. Yet while the majority of respondents (58 percent) acknowledged that they may be at risk for sun damage, tanned skin was rated one of the most attractive skin features among those surveyed, but at what cost? According to the AAD, tanned skin is a visible sign of sun damage, and sun damage significantly increases a person's risk of developing skin cancer.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.  Fortunately, skin cancer is highly curable when caught and treated before it spreads, so early detection is essential. 

To combat this dangerous lack of awareness, the AAD and LEO Pharma have launched Listen To Your Skin, a campaign to educate Americans about the prevalence of sun damage and the lesser known signs, symptoms, and consequences of overexposure to the sun, including actinic keratosis (AK), a precancerous skin condition affecting 1 in 6 Americans that is often confused with sun spots or age spots. AK can progress to squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common type of skin cancer.

Board-certified dermatologist Erin Gilbert, MD, PhD, and spokesperson for the AAD, notes: "It's very important to check your skin for signs and symptoms of sun damage. In addition to moles, persistent skin changes in color and texture, like red, pink, grey or skin-colored patches that are rough or scaly, are often indications of sun damage, and may not be as obvious as a mole. I often tell my patients to have their partner or spouse check their skin regularly for any of these signs."

Despite the majority of people surveyed (58 percent) believing they are at risk for sun damage, half of them have never checked their own skin or had a medical professional check their skin for sun-damage related skin conditions.

More sun and skin related survey findings include:

  • Nearly nine in 10 Americans have never heard of actinic keratosis, which typically appears as a dry, scaly, rough-textured patch or lesion on sun-exposed areas like the face, neck, and scalp, despite it affecting approximately one in six people
  • 59 percent of respondents have never talked to their doctor about how to prevent sun damage or skin cancer
  • 63 percent of respondents have asked their partners' opinion on health questions, but only 30 percent have discussed skin appearance with their partner recently
  • While nearly six in 10 respondents spend time outdoors at least a few times per week, only 14 percent wear sun protection daily