When planning your Fourth of July outing, remember sun protection for youngsters.
“It is imperative for parents to protect their children from the harmful effects of extreme sun exposure,” said Dr. Alberto Pappo, director of the Solid Tumor Division at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
Kids are not immune from cancer just because they’re young, Pappo emphasized.
“While rare, melanoma is the most common type of skin cancer in younger patients and affects mostly teenagers. If diagnosed early, it can be treated effectively,” he said in a hospital news release.
Pappo offered this sun-safety advice:
- Try to keep children indoors when the sun’s rays are strongest — between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. They should avoid direct exposure to the sun’s UV rays as much as possible.
- No sun at all is best for infants under 6 months of age. You can take them outdoors, but keep them covered up. They need to wear a hat and cover their neck, arms and legs. Avoid sunscreen for babies under than 6 months of age to avoid exposing them to chemicals.
- For older kids, use broad spectrum sunscreen (one that’s effective against both UVA and UVB rays). It should have a rating of at least 15 SPF. Reapply every few hours.
- Don’t let teens use tanning beds. People who begin using them before the age of 30 have a 75 percent increased risk of melanoma, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
If a child has a mole, alert your pediatrician right away, Pappo advised. Early identification and removal of melanoma improves survival odds and reduces the need for more invasive surgery.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on sun safety.
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