‘My child did not like using sun protection’ : practices and perceptions of child sun protection among rural black African mothers

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 3
  • Abstract:

    BACKGROUND : Photodamage is partially mitigated by darker skin pigmentation, but immune suppression, photoaging and cataracts occur among individuals with all skin types. METHODS : To assess practices and acceptability to Black African mothers of sun protection equipment for their children living in a rural area, participants were recruited at the time of their child’s 18-month vaccinations. Mothers completed a baseline questionnaire on usual sun behaviours and sun protection practices. They were then provided with sun protection equipment and advice. A follow-up questionnaire was administered two weeks later. RESULTS : Mothers reported that during the week prior to the baseline questionnaire, children spent on average less than 1 hour of time outdoors (most often spent in the shade). Most mothers (97%) liked the sun protection equipment. However, many (78 of 86) reported that their child did not like any of the sun protection equipment and two-thirds stated that the sun protection equipment was not easy to use. CONCLUSIONS : Among Black Africans in rural northern South Africa, we found a mismatch between parental preferences and child acceptance for using sun protection when outdoors. A better understanding of the health risks of incidental excess sun exposure and potential benefits of sun protection is required among Black Africans.