Sun damage early in life can substantially increase the risks of skin cancer, even doubling with just a few burns, so prevention during childhood and adolescence is key. Following the sun safety tips listed here from infancy is ideal, but kids and teens are often resistant to wearing sunscreen and instead, are trying to achieve the perfect tan through sunbathing or indoor tanning. Despite the research showing these habits lead to increased risk of skin cancer and premature aging, they are still popular.
“Research conducted in the last 10 years has repeatedly shown a growing number of young adults developing skin cancer. Most recently, a Mayo Clinic study found a six-fold jump in the rates of melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — among 18-to-39-year-olds over the last 40 years. Women had an eight-fold increase, compared with a four-fold increase in men. The researchers attribute the gender difference to higher tan-seeking behaviors among young women, including outdoor sun exposure and indoor tanning.” - John Hopkins Medicine
So what can we do to encourage a lifelong habit of sun protection and avoidance of harmful habits in our kids and teens? Here are 6 tips to help you do this.
Learn about and discuss sun protection and the serious risks of skin cancer together. Here are some links to get you started:
Tanning Industry’s Misleading Messages to Teens
Skin Cancer Increasingly Common in Teens and Young Adults
Sun Fitness for Kids and Teens
Mom Shares Story of Daughter's Skin Cancer Death to Help Save Others
2. Model Sun Safety
Let’s not forget to protect our skin too, it’s important for our health and sets an example for our kids to follow.
3. Make it easy!
Provide a personal bottle of sunscreen for kids and teens to use and let them choose sun hats and sunglasses that fit their style.
4. Discuss and model a healthy body image.
Speaking negatively about our own bodies can teach our kids that they should think there is something wrong with theirs. Loving and taking care of our bodies can help teach our kids to do the same.
5. Discuss premature aging.
Sun damage not only can lead to cancer but premature aging of the skin. Sunbathing and indoor tanning are often chosen for the purpose of achieving what is perceived to be a more attractive look, though in the end it leads to signs of skin aging, skin spots, fine lines and wrinkles and at a much younger age.
6. See a dermatologist or other health care professional.
Older kids and teens that are resistant may take this matter more seriously when hearing about the risks from a doctor, especially one who has treated other young people with skin cancer.
What we choose to put on our skin to protect it from sun damage is important too! Choose a sunscreen with safe ingredients. Check out our 100% Natural Sunscreens all highly rated for safety by the EWG!
How do your kids feel about sun protection? Do you have any tips to add? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments!