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Sun-Protective Behavior Rates

National surveys supported by CDC indicate that youth and adults in the United States are being exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and can do more to protect themselves.


In 2010, 70% of adults said they usually or always practice at least one of the three sun-protective behaviors (use sunscreen, wear sun-protective clothing, or seek shade).1

  • 31% reported applying sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
  • 40% reported wearing sun-protective clothing.
  • 37% reported seeking shade.
  • Only 60% of young adults aged 18 to 24 used one or more sun protective methods, while 72% of those 25 years of age and older reported using one or more methods. Among adult men, 67% reported usually using one or more methods of sun protection, in contrast to 73% of adult women.

More than one-third of U.S. adults reported a sunburn in the previous year, with rates higher among men and the non-Hispanic white population.2


Among high school students, 13% of girls and 7% of boys reported they routinely used a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher when they were outside for more than an hour on a sunny day in 2013.3

About one-third of U.S. teens aged 14 to 17 years had a sunburn during the past year. About half of non-Hispanic white teens, 22% of Hispanic teens, 18% of non-Hispanic Asian teens, and 7% of non-Hispanic black teens had a sunburn during the past year.4


1National Cancer Institute. Cancer Trends Progress Report: UV Exposure and Sun Protective Practices. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

2Holman DM, Berkowitz Z, Guy GP Jr, Hartman AM, Perna FM. The association between demographic and behavioral characteristics and sunburn among U.S. adults—National Health Interview Survey, 2010. Preventive Medicine 2014;63:6–12.

3Kann L, Kinchen S, Shanklin SL, Flint KH, Kawkins J, Harris WA, Lowry R, Olsen EO, McManus T, Chyen D, Whittle L, Taylor E, Demissie Z, Brener N, Thornton J, Moore J, Zaza S; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States, 2013. MMWR Surveillance Summaries 2014;63 Suppl 4:1–168.

4QuickStats: Percentage of teens aged 14–17 years who had a sunburn during the preceding 12 months, by race/ethnicity—National Health Interview Survey, United States, 2010. MMWR 2011;60(30):1028.