SkinCancerNet Article
3 Habits Parents Should Encourage for a Lifetime of Healthier Skin

Practices that we learn early in life, such as brushing our teeth twice a day and washing our hands before eating, often become lifelong habits. To help children have a lifetime of healthier skin, dermatologist recommend that parents encourage the following habits at an early age:

  1. Practice Sun Protection
    Protecting a child’s skin from overexposure to the sun can significantly reduce the child’s lifetime risk of skin cancer. Some studies suggest that sun protection in children may even reduce the number of moles that develop. Fewer moles can reduce the lifetime risk of developing melanoma, a potentially deadly skin cancer.

    Sun protection does not mean that your child cannot enjoy spending time outdoors. To learn how you can protect the skin while spending time outdoors, visit:

    Be Sun Smart
    ®

Sunscreen tips from a dermatologist:

  • If your child’s skin is sensitive or prone to an allergic reaction, be sure to test the sunscreen first. Applying a dab on the child’s inside upper arm offers a reliable test. If redness or a rash develops within 24 hours, another sunscreen should be used.

  • A sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide is less likely to cause a reaction. These ingredients sit on top of the skin.

  1. Avoid Tanning
    The United States Department of Health & Human Services has declared ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, as a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance).

    Be a good role model by not getting a tan from the sun or artificial tanning devices such as tanning beds. Children are easily influenced by what they see their parents do.

  2. Check Skin Regularly
    Regular skin self-exams are important. In teenagers and adults, these exams can help detect skin cancer in its earliest stage. To encourage your child to perform regular skin self-exams later in life, dermatologists recommend:

  • Perform regular skin exams of your child’s skin. This can encourage regular skin exams to become a habit.

  • Teach your child how to perform a skin self-exam.

  • Check your own skin regularly, and let your child know that you perform regular skin self-exams.

Everything you need to know to perform a skin self-exam can be found on a one-page printout developed by the American Academy of Dermatology. This printout also gives you a place to keep track of moles and other spots.

Body Mole Map

These habits are important year round. You do not need to wait for a day at the beach to teach sun protection or how to perform a skin exam. You can start today.

References:
Aber CG, Alvarez Connelly, E, Schachner L. “Skin Cancer in the Pediatric Population.” In Nouri, K. Skin Cancer. China, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc; 2008. p. 415-30.

American Academy of Dermatology. “Encouraging a Lifetime of Healthy Skin Right from the Beginning.” News release issued October 18, 2006. Last accessed June 26, 2008.

American Academy of Dermatology, “Indoor Tanning Fact Sheet.” Available at www.aad.org/media/background/factsheets/fact_indoortanning.html. Last accessed June 26, 2008.

American Cancer Society. “Cancer Facts and Figures 2008.” Available at:
www.cancer.org/downloads/STT/2008CAFFfinalsecured.pdf. Last accessed June 26, 2008.

Gallagher RP, Rivers JK, Lee TK et al. “Broad-spectrum sunscreen use and the development of new nevi in white children: A randomized controlled trial.” JAMA 2000; 283: 2955-60.


All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

“Many of the more than 1 million skin cancers that are expected to be diagnosed in 2008 could have been prevented by protection from the sun’s rays and avoiding indoor tanning.”

Cancer Facts & Figures 2008 American Cancer Society

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

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Page last updated 7/17/08

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