- Twenty percent of a person’s lifetime sun exposure occurs before the age of 18.
- Skin cancer can be prevented.
- You can protect yourself and your child from the sun.
- Avoiding too much sun is the best protection.
- There is no “safe” suntan.
Limit your outdoor activities between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. This is when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Use sun precautions every day! Even on a cloudy day, up to 40 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays pass through the clouds.
Regular use of sunscreen during the first 18 years of life can lower the risk of certain skin cancers and is important for all ages. Apply sunscreen to your children before they leave the house in the morning. Be sure to send sunscreen with your child to day care and camp!
Treatment and Precautions
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that to prevent both skin cancer and other forms of skin damage related to ultraviolet light from the sun, you should choose a sunscreen labeled “broad-spectrum” with SPF 30 or higher that is water-resistant.
For children with sensitive skin, look for a sunscreen containing only zinc oxide or zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
Remember to apply enough sunscreen to cover all exposed areas, including the scalp, ears, neck, hands and feet, 30 minutes before going outside. For an average size adult, the amount to apply is two tablespoons of sunscreen.
Remember to reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, more often if your child is swimming or sweating.
Newborns and young infants should be kept out of the sun. Sunscreen should be applied to all babies 6 months of age and older.
Do not forget to wear a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses!
Umbrellas, trees, shadows and picnic shelters are good sources of shade. Remember that the sun reflects off of the water, snow, concrete and sand. Being near these can lead to unexpected sunburn.
Ask your child's doctor if any medicines your child is taking will make him/her more prone to sunburn. Medicines such as tretinoin (Retin-A) and doxycycline can make you more likely to get sunburn.
Use of tanning beds and tanning booths is NOT safe! These devices deliver UVB light, which contributes to the development of skin cancer and photo damage.
IF YOUR CHILD IS GETTING A SUNTAN DESPITE USING SUNSCREEN, HE OR SHE IS STILL GETTING TOO MUCH SUN! YOU WILL NEED TO USE COVER-UP CLOTHING AND KEEP YOUR CHILD OUT OF THE SUN!
When to Call Your Doctor
If your child develops sunburn, the following care is recommended:
- Cool baths followed by application of a moisturizer can be soothing.
- Hydrocortisone cream, available over the counter, may be applied twice daily.
- Ibuprofen can help with pain or discomfort. Contact your regular healthcare provider if you are unsure of the correct dose.
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
- If your child develops blisters, contact your regular healthcare provider. Do not open the blisters. You may cover the affected areas with an antibiotic ointment and bandages.
Remember to check your child’s skin on a regular basis every two to three months or as advised by your healthcare provider. Look for changes in the size, shape, color or texture of any existing moles. Tell your regular healthcare provider if you see:
- Moles that grow faster than your child
- Moles that develop areas of different color (brown, black, white, red, blue)
- Moles that have uneven or fuzzy borders
- Moles that bleed or itch
Most children will continue to develop new moles over time. It is normal to develop new moles. Most are not worrisome, unless they have an unusual appearance. You can reduce the development of new moles by following sun protection guidelines.