Cristina Riley listens to her pediatrician and always slathers her children with sunscreen.
"He had brought it up and mentioning what to look for in a sunblock. And just how to apply it, you know, more often and stuff like that," Riley said.
But a new study finds many doctors don't always have that conversation with their patients. Researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine tracked more than 18 billion patient visits from 1989-2010.
"Sunscreens are recommended at less than one in 1,000 of those visits," said Dr. Steve Feldman, a professor of dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
The study also found that doctors usually mentioned sunscreen to older patients and recommended it least to children.
Researchers say the findings are concerning because up to 80 percent of sun damage is believed to happen before age 21. Sunburns during childhood greatly increase the risk for skin cancer.
"What we are really missing is recommending it to people who are younger to prevent skin cancers from ever forming in the first place," Feldman said.
That's why Riley is teaching her kids about sunscreen now.
"Even if we're going to the farmer's market or barbecue or a picnic, we bring sunblock," Riley said.
She hopes protection now prevents problems later.
Researchers say sun protection is especially important for kids and teens because they spend much of their time outside in the sun.
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