Can kids get skin cancer? Absolutely. In fact, even though melanoma is the least common skin cancer overall, it is the most common type of skin cancer in children. Unfortunately, melanoma is also the most serious, as it can easily spread to other regions of the body.
The leading culprit to melanoma is exposure to UV radiation from the sun. Your child has delicate skin that is extra sensitive to these harmful rays. There is a list of risk factors for melanoma, and severe sunburns as a child is one of them. Other factors include those with fair skin, light hair and blue eyes.
When it comes to children, sun protection is the responsibility of the parent. As harsh as it sounds, every time you allow your child to get sunburned, you are increasing their risk for melanoma. The first place to start is finding a proper sunscreen. Ask your dermatologist which product is best for your child. You’ll want to buy a high SPF sunscreen that is effective against both UVB and UVA sunlight.
Beyond sunscreen, there are other tactics you can use to protect your child from the sun. If possible, stay indoors when the sun is emitting its strongest rays, or between 10am and 2pm. In addition, dress your child appropriately. Give them a hat to wear and consider a swim shirt for pool time. Lastly, look for playgrounds that provide shade.
Establishing strong habits for sun protection at an early age is an invaluable gift to your child. This can ensure that they grow up to be conscious of the sun’s harmful effects as an adult. To learn more about protecting your child from skin cancer, please call Olansky Dermatology Associates. We welcome the opportunity to teach parents about the dangers of melanoma and why it is so important to protect young children.