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How to Protect Your Child From an Increased Risk of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. yet practicing sun safety is often overlooked. Parents, learn how to protect your child’s skin from too much unprotected sun exposure with these five key tips.

Summer in Texas means 90+degree weather and a typical forecast of non-stop sunshine.

Although sunny skies with hot temperatures may be ideal for children eager to play outside, it’s important for parents to know the risks of being outside with too much sun exposure.

Between 55% and 72% of children are sunburned annually. Only 25%-65% of children use measures such as sunscreen to protect their skin according to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Less than 30% of children wear wide-brimmed hats, or protective clothing, or seek shade to protect their skin from sun exposure.

It only takes one severe sunburn to potentially double a child’s chances of getting skin cancer in the future. Therefore, it’s important to know the steps to take to protect a child’s skin from too much unprotected exposure.

Our Senior Director of Pediatrics, Kelly Ann Williams, MSN, CPNP-AC, PNP-BC provides these five vital tips to help your children enjoy their summer activities without getting burned.

Avoid Getting Sunburned With These 5 Tips  

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Yet, practicing sun safety is often overlooked. Skin cancer affects one in five Americans, but most cases of skin cancer can be prevented by following these tips:

  • Apply Sunscreen Early

If you’re tempted to let your child play outdoors in the sweltering heat, make sure to put sunscreen on their skin. Always put sunscreen on your child 15-30 minutes before going outside. Reapply sunscreen every two hours while they’re playing outside.

Note: When playing outside, your child should drink plenty of water to keep them hydrated throughout the day and to aid in the prevention of sunburn.

  • Apply Sunscreen to All Parts of the Body

When applying sunscreen, make sure you apply sunscreen to all parts of your child’s body exposed to sunlight. Typically, parents forget to apply sunscreen to areas of the body such as the back of the knees, ears, eyes, neck, and scalp. Be sure to apply sunscreen to those areas, as well, to protect them from the sun’s UVB Rays. UVB Rays cause sunburns, cataracts, melanoma, and harmful effects on the immune system.

Note: When applying sunscreen to your child’s face, make sure to cover their face when spraying sunscreen.

  • Choose the Best Sunscreen

When choosing a sunscreen, choose a sunscreen which contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Those are the two safest ingredients for children. Make sure the sunscreen has a sun protection factor of 30 SPC or higher and labeled broad spectrum. Broad spectrum means the sunscreen block is both UVA and UVB sunlight.

Note: If your child has allergic skin or a skin disorder do not use colored or scented sunscreen.

  • Avoid Times When the Sun Is Strongest

The sun’s rays are strongest from 10:00am-4:00pm. Therefore, try avoiding this time frame when considering taking your child outside to play. Or try to stay in the shade when the sun’s rays are at its strongest. Remember to continue to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours if your children are in the sun during this time to protect their skin.

Note: Remember children can still get sunburn even on a cloudy, cool, or overcast days, therefore its important to reapply sunscreen throughout the day.

  • Wear Protective Gear

Your child can protect their skin from sun damage by covering up and wearing protective gear. Have your child wear protective clothing such as sunglasses and a hat. Make sure your child’s clothes offer enough protection from the sun’s UVA and UVB Rays. For events outdoors such as a picnic, backyard party, or pool party bring along a wide umbrella or consider using

Note: Due to babies having underdeveloped melanin, their skin burns easily. Therefore, it’s important for babies under the age of 6 months to be kept out of the sun as much as possible and to be fully covered in protective clothing.

When to Seek Medical Attention

No one likes the feeling of sunburn.

It’s painful and can result in redness, blisters, or peeling of the skin.

If your child has a sunburn, apply aloe gel or a cool compress. Additionally, give them Tylenol or Motrin to help relieve any pain or discomfort.

If you notice your child looks ill or starts to feel ill, spikes a fever, or has blisters on the skin, it is important you seek medical care immediately at one of our Trusted ER locations near you.

We provide the best-in-class healthcare to patients in the most comfortable environment with exceptional care. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Summer Safety Series

For more in-depth tips on how you and your child can stay happy and healthy and prepare for a fun and safe summer, check out our Summer Safety Series.

And remember, if your child has an emergency, we are ready to treat any illness or injury in the comfort of your home with My Trusted Pediatrics. As always, we are “caring for yours as if they were our own.”

Have a fun and sunburn-free summer!