Think that it is enough to apply sunscreen for your family beach days, kids soccer games or just doing yard work on the weekend? Think again. While it was previously thought that sunscreen was the key to keeping your skin and children safe from the sun’s powerful rays, it is now clear that a more comprehensive approach to sun safety must be taken and taught to your kids.
In May of 2018, The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) actually changed their recommendations on when to teach your kids sun safety. The previous suggestion was to begin teaching children about sun safety at age 10. Now, due to the fact that children who get sunburns early in life are more likely to develop melanoma, coupled with the understanding that kids who learn sun
safety early are more apt to stick with it into adulthood, it is recommended that beginning at six months of age parents should be teaching their children about how to protect their skin from the sun.
In order to give your children the tools they need to keep their skin safe, just teaching them to apply sunscreen is no longer enough. Recently, the National Cancer Institute analyzed over 28,500 responses from the 2015 National Health Interview Survey and, surprisingly, Kasey Morris, who led the study, commented that, “Regular sunscreen use, in the absence of other protective behaviors, was associated with the highest likelihood of sunburn.”
In their paper on the study, they went on to say, “Although participants who did not use sunscreen, seek shade, or wear protective clothing had a higher probability of sunburn (54.8%), the group with highest likelihood of sunburn consisted of those who used only sunscreen (62.4%). The group with the lowest probability of sunburn did not report using sunscreen but reported engaging in the other 3 protective behaviors (24.3%).”
This does not mean that you and your family should shift
from applying sunscreen to just wearing long sleeves and trying to
keep out of the sun. It is crucial to cover all of your bases.
The USPSTF makes the following recommendations for sun
protection of children:
• Wearing protective clothing, including hats
• Receiving proper advice on how to apply broad-spectrum
sunscreen, with a SPF of 15 or more
• Avoiding indoor UV tanning, and tanning beds
• Avoiding sun exposure in the middle of the day, between 10am and
4pm, when the rays are strongest
• Keep your family sun safe this summer!
Check out www.skincheck.org for comprehensive information on early self-detection and prevention of melanoma.
US Preventive Services Task Force. Behavioral Counseling to
Prevent Skin CancerUS Preventive Services Task Force
Recommendation Statement.JAMA. 2018;319(11):1134–1142.