Face-ageing ‘selfie’ app promotes skin protection behaviour in teens

Skin cancers

8 May 2020

A face-aging mobile app can improve the skin cancer protection behaviour of secondary school students, new research suggests.

Brazilian and German researchers trialled the Sunface – UV-Selfie face-ageing app to see if it encouraged schoolchildren to adopt sun-safe behaviours such as use of sunscreen and avoidance of UV exposure.

After downloading the app, teens can see the premature skin aging effects caused by unprotected sun exposure on altered selfies on their phones.

The app effects were investigated in a study involving 1573 male and female students, average age 16 years in Brazil.

At six months follow up, daily sunscreen use increased from 15%) to 23% in the intervention group. Use of tanning decreased from 19% to 15%.

The proportion of pupils performing skin self-examination in the intervention group rose from 25% to 49%.

No significant changes were observed in the control group.

Published in JAMA Dermatology, the research also showed that the app intervention was more effective for female students (number needed to treat for the primary end point: 8 for girls and 31 for boys).

“We therefore consider the face-aging, app-based skin cancer prevention strategy promising and plan to pursue it in further studies,” the researchers said.

“Further research should be dedicated to investigating how to best implement interventions such as the present one into public health systems to maximise their effect on skin cancer prevention, with a particular focus on increasing effectiveness for male students.”

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