Sun Safety Especially Important For Children and Adolescents

By  //  June 9, 2019

Sun protection is a key factor for reducing skin cancer risk in both adults and children.

EDITOR’S NOTE: With summer upon us and the Space Coast a popular destination for summertime fun and recreation, it’s important to understand the effects of the sun on our skin and how to manage the consequences of a bit too much sun exposure. 

This Medical News Today article focuses on parental awareness of the risks the sun poses to their child’s skin, the best ways to protect children of all ages against the damaging effects of UV (ultraviolet) radiation and looks at ways to overcome some of the major challenges that threaten children’s sun safety.

–Dr. Jim Palermo, Editor-in-Chief

MEDICAL NEWS TODAY — It is well known that exposure to UV radiation from the sun or indoor tanning devices is a primary cause of skin cancer – the most common form of cancer in the US. What appears to be less well known is the risk UV radiation can pose to children, with a recent survey revealing that 1 in 5 parents are unaware that their children’s skin is sensitive to the sun.

According to Dr. Lisa Chipps, assistant clinical professor of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), director of dermatologic surgery at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, skin cancer is primarily viewed as a disease of adulthood, meaning many parents may not consider their child is at risk.

“The best protection is to keep your baby in the shade,” says Dr. Hari Cheryl Sachs, a pediatrician at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“However,” Dr. Chipps told Medical News Today, “melanoma accounts for up to 3% of pediatric cancers and 6% of cancer cases in teens 15-19 years old.”

There is currently no registry or database that tracks cases of skin cancer among children in the US, but a 2013 study published in the journal Pediatrics found the rate of melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – rose 2% annually among children aged 0-19 between 1973 and 2009.

Though a diagnosis of skin cancer is rare during childhood, excessive sun exposure at a young age can increase the risk of skin cancer later in life.

Last year, MNT reported on a study revealing that multiple sunburns during adolescence can raise the risk of melanoma by 80%.

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