MORE than 60% of Rockhampton residents do not properly protect themselves from the sun in winter.
The statistics show young women are the worst culprits, with some saying they feel "daggy", it was too much effort or that protective clothing was too uncomfortable.
Last year's annual Queensland Health report showed only 38% of residents in the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service area that includes Rockhampton used three or more sun protection methods during winter.
However, somewhat surprisingly, the region's residents are among the state's best for winter sun protection.
Out of 16 hospital and health service areas, Central Queensland had the equal fifth best rate in the state.
The number of sun smart residents was much higher in summer, when more than half, or 61%, of people used three sun safety behaviours, which included sunscreen, clothing, a hat, sunglasses and seeking shade.
Cancer Council Queensland figures showed about 130 melanomas were diagnosed in the Central Queensland region every year.
The council's spokeswoman Katie Clift said sun damage was not just a summer thing, especially in Queensland.
She said cooler temperatures did not affect the UV index level, which meant skin could be affected even when it was cold.
"Sun damage is just as likely during a Queensland winter as the summer season," she said.
In response to startling statistics that showed young women were among the least sun safe, the Queensland Government launched a campaign, Stay Pretty Forever, to encourage women to think about their skin.
A project spokeswoman said it also hoped to overcome barriers to show women it was easy to be sun safe without compromising fashion.
She said research showed young people thought protective clothing was too uncomfortable, others didn't want to look different from their peers and some just forgot.
Ms Clift said it was not just beach, pool or sport activities in summer when people were vulnerable in the sun.
She said sitting outside a coffee shop, walking to the shops or having a barbecue with friends without sun protection could put anyone at risk of skin cancer.
- In the Central Queensland region, 38% of people used three or more sun protection methods in winter
- This increased to 61% of people in summer
- 52% of Queenslanders reported being sunburnt in 2013
- Young adults were the worst, with 72% of 18-24s being sunburnt
Why young people don't use sun protection:
- Uncomfortable clothing
- Not wanting to look different from peers
- Feeling daggy
- Takes too much effort
- They forget