Protecting Your Child from the Sun
Warm, sunny days are wonderful. The sun feels so good on your skin. And with a little precaution, you can be sure everyone stays safe from the sun's dangerous rays. By learning more about sun safety, you can help protect your entire family and develop safe sun habits that can last a lifetime.
The sun is the main cause of skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States. There will be a million new cases of skin cancer this year. Skin cancer can and does occur in children and young adults, but most of the people who get skin cancer are older. Older people get skin cancer because they have already received too much of the sun's damaging rays. Your skin remembers each sunburn and each suntan year after year.
Most of our sun exposure - between 60 percent to 80 percent - happens before we turn 18 years of age. That's because children spend more time outdoors than most adults, especially in the summer.
All skin cancers are harmful and some, especially malignant melanoma, can be deadly if left untreated. Malignant melanoma is the second most common form of cancer in women 25 to 34 years old. Sun exposure in early childhood and adolescence contributes to skin cancer.
Research has shown that two or more blistering sunburns as a child or teen increase the risk of developing skin cancer later in life. It is very important, therefore, to protect babies and children from sunburn. Do this by making sun protection a regular family event. You can be the best teacher by practicing sun protection yourself and teach all members of your family how to protect their skin.
It's up to you to protect your child's skin. Sunburns hurt. Sunburns can also cause dehydration and fever. Too many sunburns and too much sun exposure over the years can cause not only skin cancer, but also wrinkles and possibly cataracts of the eye.
Babies under 6 months of age need extra protection from the sun. Babies have sensitive skin that is thinner than adult skin. This causes them to sunburn more easily than an adult. Even babies with naturally darker skin need protection. Since young children are more vulnerable to the sun, here are some specific rules for children younger than 1 year old:
Babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of the direct sunlight. Move your baby to the shade or under a tree, umbrella or the stroller canopy.
Dress your baby in clothing that covers the body, such as comfortable lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and hats with brims that shade the face and cover the ears.
If your baby gets a sunburn and is younger than 1 year of age, contact your pediatrician at once - a severe sunburn is an emergency.
For babies younger than 6 months of age, the risks or benefits of sunscreen use are not yet known. If your baby needs to be outdoors, discuss sunscreen use and other options with your pediatrician.
For babies older than 6 months of age, choose a sunscreen made for children.
For children older than 1 year old and all family members, follow these simple rules to protect your family from sunburns now and from skin cancer later in life:
TV Show Excerpt - Sunscreen