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Protect your kids' skin from the sun, decrease risk of skin cancer in the future

Make sure your kids are protected from the sun this summer and get plenty of fluids when in the heat
Make sure your kids are protected from the sun this summer and get plenty of fluids when in the heat
Photo by Dron/Photo Xpress

With all the summer outdoor activities, it’s easy to get too much sun, and too much sun can be very damaging to your skin. Kids, especially, are vulnerable to being overexposed to the sun.

According to, kids get between 50 and 80 percent of their lifetime sun exposure before the age of 18. In addition, skin cancer patients with the most commonly known melanoma mutations have the highest UV exposure before the age of 20.

As parents, we can make sure our kids don’t get too much sun and decrease their chances of getting sun cancer later.

The Professional Association for Pediatrics in Abilene states in its Advisor Series online that you should put sunscreen on your child if he or she will be outdoors for more than 30 minutes, and have your child wear a hat.

Keep in mind that between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. is when your child will be exposed to the most harmful UVA and UVB rays. Dr. Joe Cannon, an Abilene dermatologist, recommends on his website that you should put at least an SPF 30 sunscreen on if you are going to be out in the sun. Also, remember to protect the lips, hands, neck, ears and head as well.

Some children sunburn more easily than others, according to the Professional Association for Pediatrics. Children with red or blond hair, blue or green eyes and those with freckles or lots of moles are even more at risk, but everyone needs sunscreen.

After sun exposure, if your child starts to act very sick or has a fever, contact your child’s doctor right away. A sunburn with red streaks or yellow pus is another cause for concern.

A sunburn can occur if your child is out in the sun too long and is usually visible about two to four hours after being out in the sun.

Minor sunburns mostly cause your child’s skin to turn pink or red, but it may continue to be red and hurt and swell after 24 hours. A bad sunburn may cause blisters.

If your child does get a sunburn, the Professional Association for Pediatrics recommends giving your child ibuprofen right away and to keep giving it for two days.

Other tips for dealing with pain:

  • Put 1 percent hydrocortisone cream on your child three times a day for two days to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Give your child cool baths or put a cold wash rag on the burned areas.
  • Give your child extra water to drink to replace lost fluids and stop dizziness.
  • Put cream on the skin to help with peeling. Peeling may last a week.
  • Trim off dead skin from blisters with small scissors after cleaning the scissors with rubbing alcohol.
  • Wash blisters and put on antibiotic ointment two times a day for three days.

It’s also important to note that using tanning booths increases your risk of developing skin cancer. Dr. Cannon states on his website that despite any claims of being a safe alternative to natural tanning, tanning in a tanning booth is very harmful to your skin. In fact, any time the skin tans it must first be damaged by UV radiation.

“Intentional tanning should be avoided like any health hazard, such as smoking,” his site says, and “indoor tanning is out.”

For more information on how skin cancer develops, check out Dr. Cannon’s website.


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