Want to help protect your children from skin cancer as they get older? Make sure they never get a serious sunburn in childhood. Just one blistering burn as a child or teen nearly doubles the risk of getting melanoma. This is according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
In a recent press release, dermatologist Sheila Fallon Friedlander, a professor of pediatrics and dermatology at the University of California, San Diego, explained why parents should pay extra attention to their children’s sun exposure.
“Sun protection is important at every stage of life, including infancy and early childhood,” said Fallon Friedlander. “Sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer.”
The signs of a sunburn may not appear for a few hours. It is typically at its worst at 24 to 36 hours after sun exposure and resolves in 3 to 5 days. Information on how to treat a sunburn can be found at www.aad.org.
Tips for Protection
Fallon Friedlander recommends the following:
- Keep sun-safety items near the front door, in your car, and in your diaper bag so that you always have them ready when you’re on the go.
- Dress your child in sun-protective clothing. EX: lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with UV protection.
- Try to keep your baby in the shade. If you can’t find shade, create your own using an umbrella, canopy or stroller hood.
- Avoid using sunscreen on children younger than six months old if possible. For older children, use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Sunscreens with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are less likely to irritate sensitive skin. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating.
Also, make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids, Fallon Friedlander advised. This will help prevent them from getting overheated. If your baby gets fussy, cries excessively or develops redness on any exposed skin, take him or her indoors immediately.