Sun Protection and Children

In this day and age it seems that many parents would do anything to have their children put away the video games and get some much needed sun exposure. In fact, at one point in time, exposure to the sun was considered healthy. While it is true that sun exposure can have its benefits, it is not without its risks. The choices we make as children can have a huge effect on the health of our skin in adult life.

Over exposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer. The most dangerous type of skin cancer is referred to as "malignant melanoma", and is caused by regular sun exposure. This means that people who work and regularly play out doors are at the greatest risk for malignant melanoma. People who are not regularly exposed to the sun are still at risk of skin damage, but the type of damage is much less severe and only referred to as "melanoma". In the least severe cases of skin damage, the skin can become wrinkled, freckled, dry, and if not treated properly, may eventually lead to malignant melanoma.

When a person gets a tan, their body is reacting to the affects of the sun. The darker the tan, the more effective the skin will be at fighting off sun damage to the skin. People who burn before they tan have a lower defense against the rays of the sun than those who are naturally tan. For children who do not easily tan, and for those that burn before they tan, prolonged exposure to the sun should be avoided.

Just because the sun can cause damage to a person's skin, parents should not be afraid to let their children out in the sun to play. There are plenty of steps that parents can take to reduce potential damage to their child's skin while still allowing them to remain active and healthy. Below is a list of simple things that parents and guardians can do to help fight skin cancer in future generations:
  • Consider Time: Avoid sending kids out to play when the sun is at its hottest, usually between 11 am and 3 pm. This is especially important during the summer, when most kids are home during these times.
  • Go Long: Long sleeves and pants are great tools for preventing sun damage to skin. The tighter the fabric is woven, the more protection it will offer. Short sleeve shirts and shorts leave large areas of skin exposed to the sun. Remember, skin cancer is skin cancer, it doesn't matter where it is allowed to grow because it can still spread to other parts of the body. Wearing a long sleeve shirt and shorts still leaves large areas of the legs unprotected from the sun.
  • Stay in the Shade: Opt for play areas that are covered in shade as much as possible. Just another benefit to supporting tree planting and green earth campaigns.
  • Sunscreen: An SPF of at least 15 should be used to cover exposed areas of the body on children before they are allowed to play in the sun. If the child will be playing in the water, a waterproof sunscreen should be used. Regular sun screens can wash off in the water, leaving children and parents with a false sense of sun protection and causing more harm than good.

Remember that the purpose of this information is not to scare parents or to convince parents never to let their children out into the sun. The purpose of this article is to inform and educate. Overexposure to the sun can be dangerous, but so can underexposure. Parents must find a healthy balance between the two so that their kids can still enjoy their childhoods without having to live in fear of the possibility of skin cancer. By taking little steps like those outlined above, parents can greatly reduce the damage to their children's skin caused by the sun. Encouraging good skin health to children is also a great way to ensure that they will maintain good skin health through adulthood.

by Dr. Gina Rosenfield
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6295689

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