How to Protect Your Child from Skin Cancer

How to Protect Your Child from Skin Cancer© Jupiterimages/

A new statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to limit their children’s sun exposure, says Skin cancer rates have continued to rise in children exposed to excessive sunshine, as well as in teenagers who use tanning beds. One study estimated a 78 percent drop in skin cancer risk if parents protect their children from significant sun exposure during their first 18 years. To help parents do this, the AAP has issued the following new guidelines:

Know the risk
Only six severe sunburns in a lifetime increases the risk of melanoma, the most common and deadly kind of skin cancer in children, by 50 percent.

Slather on sunscreen
Children need sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Look for the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation, which means a sunscreen has been independently evaluated for safety and effectiveness. Reapply it every two hours while your child is outdoors.

Cover up
Get swimsuits that cover arms and legs and provide sun protection. recommends the Coolibar UPF 50+ one-piece swimsuit.

Keep hats on
Makes sure the brim covers kids’ faces and the backs of their necks.

Sunglasses aren’t just for grownups
Little eyes, as well as the sensitive tissue around them, need protecting too.

Limit outdoor activities during peak sun hours
Try to keep children out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Babies six months or younger should be kept covered at all times and out of direct sunlight.

Keep your kids away from tanning beds
The AAP supports legislation banning kids under the age of 18 from using tanning beds.

Monitor your children’s moles and freckles for the ABCDEs
Take your child to a dermatologist if you notice asymmetry, border irregularity, color variation, diameter, or evolving in any of their moles or freckles. Any of these changes are a warning sign of  skin cancer.

Use extra caution with fair skin
Children with pale skin and light eyes are most at risk of burning.

The bottom line: It’s critical to protect your child’s skin from the sun to prevent skin cancer. Also, check your child’s moles and freckles regularly for any changes.

Read the AAP’s full policy statement, “Ultraviolet Radiation: A Hazard to Children and Adolescents


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