By Jeffrey Peebles, M.D. – Southlake Medical Director, Complete Care
Most people associate skin cancer with adulthood, but it can actually occur in children as well. If you did not realize the risk, you are not alone. According to this article
that appeared on the Medical News Today website, 20 percent of parents surveyed had no idea how sensitive their children’s skin is to the sun. Here are some tips to help reduce the risk of your child suffering skin problems due to ultra-violet (UV) radiation this summer.
More Prevalent than You Think
The article quoted Dr. Lisa Chipps, the director of dermatologic surgery at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. She said that melanoma accounts for 3 percent of cancers affecting young children, and 6 percent of cancer diagnoses in teens. The medical journal Pediatrics recently published a study that showed melanoma diagnoses increased 2 percent annually between 1973 and 2009 in children aged 0-19.
So even though skin cancer is rare in children, it happens more than most people think. Also, Medical News Today recently published a study showing that adolescents who suffer multiple sunburns have up to an 80 percent increased risk of developing melanoma.
Steps to Prevent Skin Issues
While multiple sunburns can cause long-term damage, even sore or pink skin can be a problem – especially in infants and very young children.
The Skin Cancer Foundation
recommends keeping children 6 months and younger out of direct sunlight. The reason, according to the Foundation, is that infants have very low levels of melanin – a substance that provides the skin with pigment and also helps protect them against the sun. As a result, they are extremely susceptible to UV radiation.
If you want to take your child for a walk in a stroller, the best times to do so are before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m., the times where the amount of UV radiation is at its lowest. Dress them in lightweight clothing covering their legs and arms, and put a bonnet or wide-brimmed hat on their heat to protect their face, ears and neck. Sunscreen is not recommended for us in children under 6 months of age. For children 6-12 months, use a sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15.
Keeping toddlers out of the sun, of course, is much more of a challenge than an infant. But simply applying sunscreen is not enough. You need to continue to dress your child in clothing that protects him or her against the sun, and keep the child in the shade as much as possible.
If you have any questions about protecting your children from UV rays, or if you or a loved one ever experiences any sort of medical emergency, get in touch with the experts at Complete Care. Contact us online to learn more.
Dr. Jeffrey Peebles, M.D. has an extensive amount of experience in delivering advanced emergency care. He is board certified with the American Board of Emergency Medicine, and a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians/Texas College of Emergency Physicians. Dr. Peebles is committed to providing timely, affordable and high-quality medical care to the Southlake community.