Skin Cancer: How To Protect Your Kids
Just a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life. It is important that your child’s skin is protected from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever they’re outdoors – not just when they are at the beach!
Here are some tips to help you protect your children.
- Seek shade. UV rays are strongest and most harmful during midday, so it’s best to plan indoor activities during this time. If this is not possible, seek shade under a tree, an umbrella, or a pop-up tent.
- Cover up. Clothing that covers your child’s skin helps protect against UV rays. Long-sleeved shirt and long pants aren’t always practical; so it is wise to double up on protection by applying sunscreen or keeping your child in the shade when possible.
- Get a hat. Hats that shade the face, scalp, ears, and neck are easy to use and give great protection. Baseball caps are popular among kids, but they don’t protect their ears and neck. If your child chooses a ball cap, be sure to protect exposed areas with sunscreen.
- Wear sunglasses. Sunglasses protect your child’s eyes from UV rays, which can lead to cataracts later in life. Look for sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
- Apply sunscreen. Use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and UVA and UVB protection every time your child goes outside. Then reapply every 2 hours, or sooner if your child has been swimming.
- Watch for signs of burning. Tanned skin is damaged skin. Any change in the color of your child’s skin after time outside—whether sunburn or suntan—indicates damage from UV rays. Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes.
- Don’t be fooled by the weather. Cool and cloudy? Children still need protection. UV rays, not the temperature, do the damage. Clouds do not block UV rays, they filter them—and sometimes only slightly.
Adapted From “Protecting Children From The Sun”, Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, April 23, 2013.