The incidence of melanoma has doubled in the United States since 1982, and Utah continues to have the highest rates of melanoma in the country. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, “On average, one American dies from melanoma every hour.”
Roughly 95% of melanoma cases can be attributed to UV exposure. Research shows that the older we get, the more likely we are to protect ourselves from the sun, but it is actually those sunburns early in life that put us at the most risk for skin cancer. Just one blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence can nearly double a person’s chance of developing melanoma. Having five or more blistering sunburns between the ages of 15 and 20 can actually increase melanoma risk by 80%.
With Spring Break right around the corner, Joelle Fierro, from the Utah Cancer Control Program, is here to talk about 5 things to pack in your bag that will keep your kids safe over Spring Break.
- Sunscreen and lip balm
- Your own shade
- A hat
- UV protectant clothing
Quick tips to keep your kids sunsafe:
Infants (0-6 months)
- Infants under 6 months should be kept out of the sun. Their skin is too sensitive for sunscreen.
- Mesh window shields in your car can prevent UV exposure coming in through the windows.
- Try to keep your baby out of the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the most dangerous hours for sun exposure.
- Dress your baby in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs. Wide brimmed hats protect your baby’s face, neck, and ears. Getting your baby to wear a wide brimmed hat is the same as wearing a seatbelt; if he always has to do it, he will get used to it, and it will become part of his daily routine.
Babies (6-12 months)
- Apply a broad spectrum, 30 SPF sunscreen to any area left uncovered. Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before going into the sun. Don’t forget to reapply. A good rule of thumb is to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, or every time you get out of the water.
- Babies’ hands are an area often overlooked. There are many tear-free brands of sunscreen available that won’t sting babies’ eyes.
Toddlers/Pre-School Age Children
- Getting toddlers to hold still long enough to apply sunscreen is tricky. The spray on sunscreens are great to cover most exposed areas, and make reapplying easier. Spray on sunscreens should not be applied directly to the face.
- Stick or roll on sunscreens are great for the face, ears, and the scalp.
- The lips are an area often overlooked when thinking about sun safety. Choose a lip balm with SPF. Kids may have a tendency to lick it off, so make sure to re-apply lip balm every time you reapply sunscreen.
- If you can’t keep your child in the shade during peak sun hours, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., bring your own shade. Most retailers sell fairly inexpensive shade structures.
- Make sure your child is covered. Long-sleeved, unbleached cotton clothing is highly effective at blocking harmful UV rays. You can also purchase clothes that have built in Ultra Violet Protection Factor (UPF). The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends clothing with a UPF of 30 or higher.