5 Ways Parents Can Protect Their Kids From Skin Cancer Risks
Adults are at a much higher risk than children are of developing skin cancer, which is reassuring to many parents who worry about their kids’ health. Only around 300 children in the US are diagnosed with melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, annually.
However, exposure to UV rays earlier in childhood might increase a person’s chances of being diagnosed with melanoma or other forms of skin cancer as an adult. Rates of skin cancer among teens and young adults have increased slightly in the last several years, so parents need to be extra vigilant when it comes to reducing their younger children’s risks of developing skin cancer.
Most of the steps you take to keep your kids safe from skin cancer risks are simple and straightforward. Follow the tips below to help your kids grow healthily and stay safe.
1. Be Aware That Intense Periods of Exposure Are Harmful
Many Americans think that skin cancer develops over time as individuals spend any amount of time in the sun every single day. However, the opposite is usually true-getting a little bit of sun each day won’t harm you too much, but experiencing a few isolated incidents of extreme sunburns can exponentially increase a person’s risk of a future skin cancer diagnosis.
For instance, if you take a family trip to the beach and forget to pack the sunscreen, you might shrug it off and spend a full day on the shore anyway. This single day of intense sun exposure can cause blistering and painful red skin, and it also ups a person’s chances of developing melanoma as an adult.
When you take a family vacation or plan to spend a day outside hiking or picnicking with your kids, don’t leave sunscreen behind. Ensure that everyone wears a hat and reapplies their sunscreen frequently. The lower the chances your kids have of experiencing extreme sunburns, the better protected they’ll be against future skin cancer.
2. Buy the Right Kind of Sunscreen
As we wrote in a previous blog, not all sunscreen is created equal. To give your kids the best protection from the sun, purchase a type of sunscreen with a high sun protection factor, or SPF. You should also purchase sunscreen with a label that states it protects you from both UVB and UVA rays.
If you plan to participate in water sports, choose water-resistant sunscreen. Since water reflects sunlight, it magnifies its effect and increases your chances of getting sunburned.
More than just wearing sunscreen, you also need to apply it correctly. To get the most protection possible, have your kids put on sunscreen half an hour before they head outside. Don’t forget to cover sensitive (and easy to forget) parts of the body, like your kids’ lips, ears, and feet. If your child is six months old or younger, talk to a doctor about sunscreen that’s safe for sensitive baby skin.
3. Pay Attention to Sunburn Warning Signs
If your kids’ skin starts to turn pink, it’s time to temporarily halt the fun in the sun. Pinkness is a sign of a developing sunburn, and since burns take a while to show up, pinkness also indicates that your child might look even more burned by the next day.
If you see this tell-tale sign of a developing burn, at least apply more sunscreen, but at best head back inside. You should definitely seek shade during the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are most powerful.
Of course, having your child wear a hat, sunglasses, long-sleeved shirts or pants, and close-toed shoes will prevent sunburns from happening in the first place. If you spend a lot of time at the beach, invest in water shoes and a long-sleeved rash guard that protects kids from UV rays.
Remember that even if it’s cloudy outside, UV rays can still reach you. It’s important to wear sunscreen for any outdoor activity, whether that’s playing in the summer sun, hiking in the fall, or skiing in the winter while you’re on a holiday vacation.
4. Make Sure Your Child Wears Sunscreen at School and Daycare
When your child is under your roof, you can take charge of his or her sunscreen use. But you don’t have the same control once you send your kid to school. If your child’s elementary school is going on a field trip or your child’s daycare plans to spend the day playing outside, talk to the teacher or caregiver beforehand. Ensure that they understand how crucial sunscreen is.
Sunscreen is also important during recess, especially since recess usually happens during lunchtime in the middle of the day. Send your kids to school with a small bottle of sunscreen, a hat, and some sunglasses, and try to make sure they understand how important it is to wear these things outside.
5. Visit a Dermatologist
Some parents think dermatology is only for adults, or that they only need to visit if they have a cosmetic issue. However, dermatologists can look at your child’s moles and make sure they aren’t cancerous. Removing a pre-cancerous mole early on stops cancer in its tracks. If you’re worried about a particular mole or simply want to verify that your child isn’t at risk, feel free to visit a dermatologist.
Follow these helpful tips to minimize your kids’ risk of developing skin cancer. At Dermatology Surgery Center, we’re experts at diagnosing and treating skin cancer. If you’re worried about yourself or your child, trust us to provide you with the right treatment.