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:
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
Last accessed June 26, 2008.
American Cancer Society. “Cancer Facts and Figures 2008.” Available
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.
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