Exposure to the sun is associated with all forms of skin cancer, but the most common type of skin cancer is basal skin cancer. Frequent severe sunburns and intense sun exposure in childhood increase the risk of basal cell skin cancer. Basal cell skin cancers usually appear on sun-exposed areas, most commonly the face and neck, but also on the trunk and legs. The fact that it is showing up in teens and people in their 20s is of great concern to dermatologists. The incidence of basal cell skin cancer in North America is going up by 10% a year.
Apply sun protection cream half an hour before your children or infant go outside and reapply it regularly, particularly after they've been swimming or got wet. Also, use a product with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Products with SPFs of 60 offer greater protection but they don't mean your child can safely spend four times longer in the sun. Sun screens reduce the damage done by the sun's rays but they don't block them out completely. You and your children should still cover up with clothes and seek shade during the hottest part of the day.
When there is no shade around, dress your children in loose-fitting clothes and give them wide brimmed hats and good-quality sunglasses. The more skin that is covered with clothing, the better. Look for materials with a close weave, because they are best at blocking out harmful ultraviolet rays. Parents should be aware that when clothing gets wet it halves the protection given by the material.
Helpful Hints to remember before going out into the sun:
Some tips on how to avoid a struggle with your children applying sunscreen:
- Limit the time in the sun between 10:00AM to 4:00PM.
- Apply sunscreen every hour and a half. SPF 30 or greater and make sure it is not expired.
- Remember these spots; neck, chin tops of feet and back of hands.
- Bring some type of petroleum jelly to protect their lips.
- Bring hats and sun glasses for the entire family. Keep them handy all year round.
- Tell your child that sunscreen is a special makeup or paint made just for them.
- Try all types for sunscreens like foams, gels, and sprays.
- Let your child apply it themselves and then go over it yourself.
- Get a kid friendly brand that they identify with, like cartoon character, etc.
It is essential that parents change their attitude about spending time in the sun, and where better to start than with their infants and children. Regularly check you and your child’s skin, and contact your doctor notice any irregular color changes in the skin. It's important that children are taught this sort of information when they are young, because at that age they pick it up easily and it becomes second nature. Children need to get used to wearing sun protection, for it is as essential as eating and brushing their teeth. Remember that a sunburn can ruin your fun day in the sun, but its negative effects can last a life time.