Minimising Your Child's Risk of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is a big fear for many adults, particularly those who spend a lot of time in the sun. It's important to keep an eye on any moles, as any changes or other alarming signs should be cause to immediately get checked out by a doctor.

Although it's less common than it is among adults, children can get skin cancer too. If you're a parent, it's just as important to keep an eye on your children's skin as it is your own, but you should also try to protect them and reduce their risk. Here are the steps you should take to keep your child's skin safe.

Minimise sun exposure

Children shouldn't spend too long in the sun, particularly during the summer when UV rays are at their strongest. While it's not fair to keep children indoors all the time, you should discourage them from staying in full sunlight for too long. It's also important to take particular caution during the middle of the day when the sun is at its strongest; mornings and late afternoons are better times for playing outside.

Use good sun lotion

Whenever your children will be spending time in full sunlight, make sure they're properly protected by using a high SPF sun cream on arms, legs and faces. However, don't take it for granted that this will prevent any problems completely; you should still stop children from sunbathing for extended periods. Clothing can offer extra protection, particularly sun hats or long-sleeved tops in dark colours.

Avoid sun beds

Children should never use sun beds, as the high ultraviolet exposure significantly increases the risk of skin cancer developing. It can be difficult to convince teenagers that it's a bad idea, but it's important to be persistent and explain the risks to them. There's plenty of time for tanning when they're older, although discouraging children at a young age helps keep them safer later in life.

Understand if your child is at a higher risk

People with fair hair and light skin burn more easily in the sun and, therefore, have a higher risk of skin cancer. If your child fits this group, make sure you take extra care with protecting them from the harmful effects of the sun. Freckles are another sign of a higher risk, as are blue, green, grey or hazel eyes.

If you're going on holiday somewhere hotter than the typical weather at home, remember to adjust your habits to keep your child's skin safe while you're away.