Canadian Travellers Need to do More to Protect Skin


Whether it’s for a Spring Break escape or a summer holiday, sun-loving Canadian families with kids, parents and grandparents love to travel to warm, tropical destinations for fun-filled family vacations. Yet, while loving parents Canadian sun protectionand grandparents often scurry behind their children with hats, sunscreen and bandages in tow, they may forget to protect their own skin by taking steps to detect and prevent skin cancer, including a potentially serious condition called actinic keratosis (AK). What Canadians need to know is that they need to do more, and that’s why the Canadian Skin Patient Alliance (CSPA) is reminding Canadians to practice proper sun safety this season.


If you’re over 40, particularly if you have fair skin and have spent a lot of time in the sun, beyond the already well-known skin cancers, you are at also at higher risk for developing actinic keratosis, one of the most common forms of pre-cancerous skin conditions treated by dermatologists. Unfortunately, it’s also a condition that more than 87% of Canadian warm/sunny destination travellers don’t know about. The CSPA is reminding Canadian that skin health includes being vigilant about all sun-induced skin conditions, including AK.


Actinic keratosis can potentially go on to develop into squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), a common form of skin cancer. The number of cases of SCC is expected to nearly triple by 2031. What’s more concerning is a recent survey found those over the age of 45 were less concerned about sunburn or too much sun exposure while travelling than those 44 even though statistically they are at higher risk. This year 1/3 of all cancer diagnoses will be skin cancers.


What else did the survey reveal? Here’s a look:


Even though getting a sunburn is a top concern for 1-in-3 travellers, most are not taking sufficient steps to protect themselves. In fact, more than half of the travellers surveyed don’t always wear sunscreen (55%), don’t wear a hat (78%) or don’t wear UV protective clothing (93%).


59% would not see a physician immediately if they noticed rough spots, scaly patches, suspicious spots or moles after examining their skin. The incidence of skin cancers is on the rise and ignoring signs of cancer is dangerous.


Surprisingly, although they are fully aware of the risks associated with melanoma and non-melanoma skin conditions, 2-in-5 travellers don’t think they are at risk of developing skin cancer. In fact, the more sun exposure our skin has, the more we increase our risk.


Nearly 4-in-10 travellers (38%) mistakenly believe AK first appears as blisters and welts after a severe sunburn, when in fact actinic keratosis can appear as slightly red, scaly spots through to thick, scaly sometimes crusty spots or patches that feel rough, sore or itchy, like sandpaper. It may range in size from very small to pea-sized or larger. Unlike better known skin cancers, AK can sometimes be ‘felt’ as opposed to just seen on the skin.


Canadians need to be more proactive about their health because early detection and treatment is key. That’s why it’s important to ‘take notice’ of your skin, conduct regular skin checks and speak with your healthcare provider if you see – or feel – anything suspicious. You can also visit for reliable information.