Don't let the wonder years become risky years: Protect your children from skin cancer while having fun in the sun.
May 7, 2010
"Mom, dad, can I go out and play?" How many times have you heard that? Even from an early age, kids love to spend time outdoors. Unfortunately, 54 percent of children burn or tan in their second summer, and 22 percent burn in their first, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Moreover, most kids receive between 50 and 80 percent of their lifetime sun exposure before they turn 18 years old.
Most parents want their kids to have an active and healthy lifestyle, with plenty of outdoor exercise. However, the risk of too much sun can be a deterrent. But let's face it, you can't live your life inside; it's important that parents teach their children how to enjoy fun in the sun, safely.
Parents should follow the American Cancer Society's Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap guidelines for protecting kids outdoors:
Slip on a shirt.
Slop on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher.
Slap on a hat.
Wrap on sunglasses.
Some Risk Factors in Kids
Parents should be especially sun-conscious if their child has any of the following risk factors:
Moles on their skin (or if there's a family tendency to develop moles).
Fair skin and hair.
Family history of skin cancer, including melanoma.
What You Should Know
Pink today, red tomorrow. Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays in 15 minutes or less, but it can take 12 hours to actually show the effect. So, get your child out of the sun as soon as you see the first signs of redness.
Healthy tan? No such thing. The truth is, tanned skin is damaged skin so any change in the color of your child's skin after time outside— whether sunburn or suntan— indicates damage from UV rays.
Partly cloudy, chance of burn. Just because it's cool and the sun is nowhere to be found in the sky, children still need protection. It's the sun's UV rays, not the temperature, which does the damage. Clouds will filter some of the sun's ray, but not all. Slather on that sunscreen.
Plan ahead. Often, kids get too much sun exposure because they're outdoors longer than expected. Anticipate and keep sunscreen handy in a bag, your vehicle or even in your child's backpack.