By the time kids are 18 years old, many have already racked up between 50-80 percent of the lifetime sun exposure.
Helping children get in the habit of using sunscreen should begin early, and teaching kids about the dangers of tanning — especially with girls ages 11-14 — is equally important. Researchers echo what most of us already know — early sunburns increase the risk of skin cancer later in life.
What about vitamin D? While it’s true that the sun is our main source of vitamin D, it doesn’t take a lot of time in the sun to get what we need. A recent study shows that the use of sunscreen is declining and efforts should be made to educate teens about the importance of skin cancer prevention.
As well as educating about the importance of applying and reapplying sunscreen, teach kids to
• Wear sun-protective clothing if outside when the sun is strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Limit outdoor activities between these hours when possible.
• Wear sunglasses to protect the eyes.
• Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect the face and neck.
Keep in mind that certain medicines can increase a child’s sensitivity to the sun. Even if your child has never burned easily, he or she may have a problem when using certain medications such as antibiotics and those used to treat acne.
Susan Young, R.N. is the director of nursing at the Madison County-London City Health District.