Limit Sun Exposure in Children, Keep Teens Out of Tanning Booths, Report Advises

Filed under: Health

sun protection for children

Lifelong sun protection should begin at an early age. Credit: Getty

Yes, you're always sure everyone in the family is slathered in sunscreen when you go to the beach or the pool, but sorry, Mom. That may not be enough to protect your kids from the hazards of overexposure to the sun.

A policy statement released today by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers guidance to parents and pediatricians on skin cancer prevention and safe sun exposure practices, recommending that lifelong sun protection begin at an early age.

Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) causes the three major forms of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and cutaneous malignant melanoma. But even though public health campaigns work to educate the public about the risk of developing skin cancer, many people continue to subject themselves to harmful UVR.

And many teens and young adults continue to increase their exposure to UVR by going to tanning salons, according to the statement.

As a result, rates of skin cancer -- including melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer -- continue to rise, even in younger people, the statement says.

The AAP recommends pediatricians advise parents about UVR exposure during check-ups and other health care visits. The statement says advice about UVR exposure is important for all children -- especially those at high risk of developing skin cancer, such as children with light skin, freckles and a family history of melanoma.

Specific recommendations include:

  • Avoid sunburning and suntanning.
  • Wear clothing and hats with brims.
  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher whenever a child or adolescent might sunburn.
  • Sunscreen should be applied every two hours and after swimming, sweating or drying off with a towel.
  • Encourage outdoor activity, but limit exposure during midday, when the sun is at its peak (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
  • Be especially cautious around sand, snow and water.
  • Wear sunglasses when playing sports, walking, driving or doing anything in the sun.
  • Keep infants younger than 6 months of age out of direct sunlight and cover them with appropriate protective clothing and hats.
  • Include children in the sun protection discussion beginning at 9 or 10 years of age, to encourage children to take responsibility for limiting exposure and develop lifelong safe habits.
  • Discourage teenagers from visiting tanning salons.
For more information, view the AAP's sun safety tips.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.