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14:50 PM

Here comes the sun: Is your child protected?

Majority of skin cancer is preventable and here’s how to do it

Sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer – the most common form of cancer in the United States.

Skin cancer is a serious problem in the United States. Did you know this information from the Skin Cancer Foundation?

  • One in five American will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
  • Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.
  • About 5.5 million Americans nonmelanoma skin cancer each year.
  • Melanoma accounts for up 3 percent of all pediatric cancers.

Children who are overexposed and under protected are at greater risk for developing skin cancer as they age.

“The majority of skin cancer is preventable,” said Jenica Rose-Stine, D.O., a pediatrician at Cook Children’s Willow Park office. “Protecting your child from the sun at an early age is key.”

A new study in JAMA Dermatology found that 40 percent of the most popular sunscreens sold on Amazon didn’t provide proper protection. The American Academy of Dermatology looks for these three requirements:

  • A sunscreen should have a Sun Protection Factor of at least 30.
  • Protect skin against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Resistant to water, including sweat.

Dr. Rose-Stine recommends:

  • Using sunscreen labeled “broad spectrum,” which protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Choose a sunscreen that has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30, preferably 50, and apply enough of the sunscreen to cover all exposed areas including the ears, back of the neck, hands, feet, lips and top of the head for children with fine hair. Reapply at least every two hours or after swimming or participating in activities that produce sweat.
  • Liquid sunscreens that are “physical blockers.” They physically deflect or block the sun’s rays. Look for the words “zinc oxide” or “titanium dioxide” listed first in the ingredients (Blue Lizzard is a good brand.)
  • Purchasing sunglasses for children that block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays, as sun exposure can increase the risk of intraocular melanoma developing in the eyes – particularly those that are light-colored.
  • Avoiding the sun during its peak summer hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Have your child wear a swim shirt to minimize sun exposure to chest, shoulders, and back.

Recent studies suggested that many children are now deficient in vitamin D, a vitamin necessary for healthy bone growth and development. Children only need 15 minutes of sun exposure a day to absorb their daily dose of vitamin D.

“Children should get vitamin D from a diet rich in eggs and fortified foods, such as milk, cereal, orange juice and yogurt,” Dr. Rose-Stine said. “Sun exposure triggers the skin to produce vitamin D, but parents shouldn’t rely solely on sun exposure because of the associated risks.”

Click to read the JAMA study.

About the author

Jenica Rose-Stine, DO is a pediatrician at Cook Children's Willow Park pediatrics - 136 El Chico Trail, Ste. 102 Willow Park, Texas 76087. Dr. Rose Stine is enthusiastic about several areas of pediatrics including development, safety and prevention, and nutrition and she thoroughly enjoys her interactions with first-time parents and their newborns.

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