As your children splash in the pool this summer, sun safety will be the last thing on their mind. However, it’s never too early for skin cancer prevention. Avoiding sun damage early on may lower your child’s skin cancer risk later in life. Here are some essential sun protection tips to keep in mind for your children this summer.
Covering up your child’s skin is one of the best ways to prevent excess sun exposure. When possible, choose lightweight long-sleeved shirts and long pants. You can even purchase children’s clothing that has built-in UV protection. Swim shirts can also be effective when your family is at the beach or pool. Wide-brimmed hats will protect the face, ears, and neck, and sunglasses can shield your child’s eyes. These measures are especially important if your child has light skin, light hair, or freckles.
It's easy to pick out protective clothing for your little ones. However, it can be tricky if you have older kids. If your children are dressing themselves, you’ll need to talk to them about sun protection and how clothing can help. Instilling these habits early on will benefit their skin later in life.
Build sunscreen into your summer routine to prevent sun damage. Apply sunscreen with at least SPF 15 onto your children’s skin 30 minutes before an outdoor activity. You will need to apply the sunscreen about every two hours, especially if your children are swimming or sweating. Special sport sunscreen may last through soccer games and swim lessons, but it’s still smart to reapply throughout the day.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under six-months-old be kept out of direct sunlight at all times. If you have children older than that, try to keep them in the shade as much as possible. This is especially important between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., as the sun’s rays are strongest during mid-day. Umbrellas and pop-up canopies can be useful where shade is unavailable, such as the beach or an open field.
As you protect your little ones from the sun this season, be sure to prioritize your own skin cancer prevention. Kids learn from example, and they may be more likely to apply sunscreen and wear protective clothing when they see you doing the same. Keep sunscreen on hand, wear sunglasses, and avoid tanning. You can also talk to your kids about sun safety from a young age through children’s books and videos.
Skin cancer in children is rare, but it can occur. There are several hundred cases of childhood skin cancer in the United States every year, and melanoma is the second most common skin cancer in the 15-29 age group. So, it’s never too early to monitor your child’s skin.
If you notice a mole that is changing in shape, size, or color, it’s best to contact your dermatologist. They will examine your child for skin cancer moles, as well as other warning signs. Your dermatologist can also assess your child’s skin cancer risk factors and recommend regular screenings if necessary.
As a parent, your child’s health is your top priority. And the team at Pacific Dermatology is here to support your family’s well being. Our dermatology and skin cancer specialists provide skin cancer screenings, diagnostics, and treatment in Torrance, CA and at multiple offices in the surrounding areas. Contact us today to schedule a screening or discuss your skin cancer risk factors.