Skin cancer prevention for kids
Question: How can I help prevent my kids from getting skin cancer?
Answer: Our climate gives us ample opportunity to spend lots of time outdoors, no matter the season. But time spent outside also means exposure to the harmful rays of the sun, a known cause of skin cancer. The earlier you teach your children about sun protection, the better their chances to avoid developing the disease. Here are some tips for enjoying our sunshine and keeping your kids’ skin protected:
- Children 6 months and older should use sunscreen with at least Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30. Look for “broad spectrum” formulas that defend against both UVA and UVB rays.
- Babies under 6 months should avoid direct sunlight, always wear protective clothing and be shaded by a canopy or umbrella. Use sunscreen on an infant only if no other protection is available.
- Use at least one ounce of sunscreen (enough to fill a shot glass) and apply it to all areas of the body that are exposed to the sun. Re-apply every two hours or after any water play or exercise.
- Select swimwear that includes UV protection and encourage your children to wear hats and clothing that protect their skin.
- For areas that receive a lot of sun exposure, such as noses, cheeks, ears and shoulders, choose sun protection with zinc oxide or titanium oxide as the first ingredient.
- Avoid the outdoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is most powerful.
- Use sunscreen daily, even when skies are overcast and temperatures are chilly. The sun is always present and UVA and UVB rays can pass through clouds.
Ask your pediatrician to do a skin check on your child at his or her annual well visit. If you see a questionable spot or mole on your child’s skin, report it to your doctor immediately.