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How To Protect Your Children From Skin Cancer

Summer is filled with time spent outdoors, and with that fun comes significant sun exposure. Although young children are not able to fully understand the risks of sunburns and sun exposure, teaching them healthy habits from a young age can help them learn to make the right skincare decisions throughout their lives.

Teach Your Children the Importance of Sunscreen

Many children see putting on sunscreen as just something boring they have to do before Mom or Dad will let them play outside because they haven’t been taught about the short and long-term dangers of prolonged sun exposure. To help them understand why this is important, educate young children about the reasons for putting on sunscreen, such as preventing sunburns. Even small children can understand wanting to avoid a painful sunburn, especially if they have experienced one before! “I tell parents that it is crucial to teach children about sun protection from an early age, not only because sunburns are uncomfortable, but because sunburns also have long-lasting effects on the skin. Even just one severe sunburn in childhood can double a person’s risk of skin cancer later in life,” says Dr. Melanie Pickett, a board-certified dermatologist at Sanova Dermatology. Once children are older, continue to encourage good sun protection and teach them about the more long-term effects of unsafe sun exposure, such as skin cancer.

Add Sunscreen to Your Daily Routine Before Leaving the House

Make putting on sunscreen part of your child’s morning routine. Just as you remind them to brush their teeth before leaving the house, reminding them to apply sunscreen is a great way to help them learn that caring for their skin is just as important as caring for their teeth. Especially if your children spend a lot of time outdoors, making this part of their daily routine is a great way to encourage healthy skin years down the road. And don’t forget your sunscreen as well! “Children learn to do what adults do. So if they see their parents putting on sunscreen, they will be more inclined to do this for themselves as well,” says Dr. Pickett.

Cover-Up as Much as Possible

Sunscreen is only one part of a comprehensive sun protection strategy. Encouraging your children to seek shade and cover up when the weather allows are also important ways to minimize direct sun exposure to the skin. Sun-protective clothing such as UPF swimwear and UPF clothing is made of lightweight, tightly-woven fabrics that block UV rays, and are an effective way to protect skin at the beach, pool, or park, or during times when sunscreen reapplication is difficult.  Wide-brim hats are also an excellent option for protecting the face.

Your children may not enjoy putting on sunscreen any more than they enjoy brushing their teeth right now, but teaching them why it is important from a young age can help them build lifelong healthy habits. Add a bottle of sunscreen to your summer shopping list today, then contact Sanova Dermatology for more children’s skincare tips!