by Robert Young, MD
Rocky Mountain Dermatology
Parents must know that just ONE severe sunburn during childhood DOUBLES a person’s risk of developing Melanoma in his/her lifetime. Skin Cancer is a very real thing; the most common form of cancer in the United States.
Likewise, some experts have estimated that a person can get 60-80 percent of their lifetime UV Carcinogenic skin exposure as a child. Learning to protect yourself during formative years will create a possible life-saving habit for the rest of their lives.
Most are under the impression that a dermatologist would tell them to live like a troll in a cave and never see the sun.
Not true! The message that I want everyone to get is that you can have your cake and eat it too. You can an should enjoy life, but do it responsibly by avoiding the harmful effects of the sun.
If sunscreen is not for you, wear protective clothing such as rash guards, long-sleeves, pants, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses. Use extra caution near water and sand because they reflect damaging rays of the sun.
For teenagers or those young at heart, only purchase makeup with sunscreen. This works in foundations, moisturizer, eye shadow and lip gloss. Also, give each teen their own sunscreen for their sports bag so they’ll always have it with them.
Educate your teens about the dangers of skin cancer and tanning beds. Indoor tanning beds are 40 percent more likely to cause cancer than outdoor sun exposure.
Make sunscreen fun for kids!
- Use fun applicators: Purchase sunscreen with applicators in brush, stick or spray form and let them apply it themselves.
- Lead by example: Allow your kids to apply your sunscreen first; then it’s their turn.
- Reward them with extra time outdoors, in the pool or a fun activity in the shade.
- Let them choose a sun hat and tell them it’s “gear,” just like a backpack or cleats. For sun safety, broad-rimmed hats, SPF 50 rash guards and long-sleeve cover ups make a difference.
- Don’t call it sunscreen: Make up a name like Super Spray, Force Field or Fairy Dust.