Sun Smarts: Kids, Sunscreen and Melanoma

This article was featured in the Orange County Register on August 19, 2013 and was written by Shaleek Wilson.

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SUNLIGHT EXPOSURE

Orange County is one of the sunniest places in California, with hundreds of sun days per year. With that comes the need for protection. Improper protection can increase risk for skin cancer. “People get skin cancers, the most serious being melanoma, because we get too much exposure to the sunlight,” says Dr. Sender. To ward off harmful UVA and UVB rays, use sunscreen. “Most people don’t put enough on,” explains Dr. Sender. “We recommend about an ounce for each area of exposed skin, i.e. leg or arm.”

THE RIGHT NUMBER

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It should be applied liberally and more often than most people think, he explains. “Sunscreen should be put on 30 minutes before you go out in the sun,” says Dr. Sender. So, what’s the magic number? 15? 50? 100? “Never go in the sun with less than SPF 30,” he says. “Use the broad-spectrum variety and reapply every two hours.”

MORE ABOUT MELANOMA

Melanoma accounts for 4% of all skin cancers. Malignant (life-threatening) melanoma starts in cells that produce pigment (color) in skin. It usually begins as a mole that turns cancerous. People with all skin types may be affected, but those who are fair-skinned and burn easily are at a higher risk, says Dr. Sender.

THE ABCD’S OF MOLES

Although melanoma is still rare in kids, parents should make checking for moles part of their monthly routine. Look for Asymmetry, Border, Color and Diameter. “Get to know your child’s skin; if all the moles look the same and one is different, that’s the one you need to worry about,” Dr. Sender says. “It should never be bigger than a pencil eraser.”

With early detection, melanoma is curable, so be safe and use common sense in the sun:

  • Apply sunscreen, even on infants 6 months and older
  • Wear wide-brimmed hats
  • Protect your eyes; wear sunglasses

FAST FACTS

  • Cases of skin cancer in the U.S. every year: 1.3 Million
  • Percentage of sun rays blocked when SPF 30 is applied: 90%
  • Time of day when the sun is the strongest: 10am – 4pm

 

CHOC Pediatric Cancer Specialist
Dr. Leonard Sender
CHOC Pediatric
Cancer Specialist

PHYSICIAN FOCUS: DR. LEONARD SENDER

Dr. Sender is the Medical Director of Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC’s Children’s as well as CHOC Children’s Specialists Division chief of Oncology; and Medical Director of Clinical Oncology Services at UC Irvine Medical Center’s Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. He completed his fellowship in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology including Hematopoietic Progenitor Cell Transplantation.

EDUCATION:
University of Witwatersrand School of Medicine, South Africa

BOARD CERTIFICATIONS:
Pediatric Hematology/Oncology

More about Dr. Sender

 

Have a Safe Summer!

Summer is in full swing, and it’s all about safety this season, whether your family is enjoying a fun day at the beach, or a barbecue in your backyard! Check out these helpful reminders to ensure your little ones have a fun and safe summer. Don’t forget to check back on the CHOC Blog for more summer safety guidelines.

Be Aware of Pool, Spa Dangers

Drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in children ages 1 to 14. Nothing replaces constant supervision. However, layers of protection like fences, door and window alarms, and pool covers will buy you precious seconds if you are momentarily distracted. Here are other important things to know about pool and spa safety:

• Stay away from the drain — Hair and body parts may become entrapped by the drain’s powerful suction. If you have a pool or spa, have it checked by a professional. A professionally installed “anti-vortex” drain cover may help minimize the risk.
• Never swim alone — And that goes for grownups, too.
• Invite a “Water Watcher” to all pool parties — Designate one adult to watch the water at all times. Ask another to watch the children. It’s simple, and it can avert a tragedy.

Protect Your Child’s Skin

Deadly skin cancers are being diagnosed at increasingly younger ages. Researchers have linked this alarming trend to childhood sun exposure. Protective steps you take now will pay off in the years to come:

• Slop it on — Apply 30 SPF sunscreen every day. Cover all exposed skin, including hands, ears and the back of the neck. Reapply after swimming or if your child perspires excessively.
• Keep it cool — Schedule outdoor activities before 10 a.m. or after 2 p.m.
• Cover up — Outfit your children with broadbrimmed hats and protective clothing that covers the arms and legs.
• Protect those peepers — Choose real (not toy) sunglasses with polarized lenses for your children.

Play It Safe

Your local playground is a great place to get exercise. First, take a moment to make sure it is safe:

• Check for hidden hazards — Look carefully for razor blades, broken glass, insects or snakes.
• Examine the equipment — Stay away from any with sharp points or broken edges. Avoid swings that have “S” hooks at the bottom of the seat.
• Ensure a soft landing — Make sure play equipment has at least 12 inches of mulch, wood chips, sand or pea gravel, or mats made of safety-tested rubber.
• Remove all strings — Never let your child play on equipment while wearing a backpack or clothing with strings.

For more information about summer safety, visit www.choc.org. CHOC Community Education offers “Three Tragic Seconds,” a pool safety class for parents and caregivers. To schedule a presentation, please call CHOC Community Education at (714) 509-8887.

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Sun Safety Tips for You and Your Family

May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, a perfect time to talk to your kids about sun safety. Check out these sunburn and skin cancer preventive tips recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) and the Skin Cancer Foundation.

1. Minimize exposure to the sun at midday – between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

2. Apply sunscreen, with at least a SPF-15 or higher that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, to all areas of your child’s (older than 6 months of age) body that are exposed to the sun.

3. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, even on cloudy days. Reapply after swimming or perspiring.

4. Make sure your child wears clothing that covers the body and shades the face. Hats should provide shade for both the face and back of the neck. Wearing sunglasses will reduce the amount of rays reaching the eye by filtering as much as 80 percent of the rays, and protecting the lids of the eyes, as well as the lens.

5. Avoid exposure to UV radiation from sunlamps or tanning parlors.

6. Protect children from excessive sun exposure when the sun is strongest (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.), and apply sunscreen liberally and frequently to children 6 months of age and older.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) approves of the use of sunscreen on infants younger than 6 months old if adequate clothing and shade are not available. Parents should still try to avoid sun exposure and dress the infant in lightweight clothing that covers most surface areas of skin. However, parents also may apply a minimal amount of sunscreen to the infant’s face and back of the hands.

Remember, sand and pavement reflect UV rays even under the umbrella. Snow is a particularly good reflector of UV rays. Reflective surfaces can reflect up to 85 percent of the damaging sun rays.

For more information, check out the CHOC Health Library on choc.org at http://www.choc.org/healthlibrary/topic.cfm?PageID=P01922

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Sun Safety Tips – Think Prevention!

The scorching heat continues! Before you and your kiddos head out, don’t forget these safety basics to protect yourselves from the sun:

• Use sunscreen with a SPF level of at least 30. Sunscreen not only protects against sun damage but also against wind damage by acting as a shield against irritants.

• No tanning oils or salons. Tanning increases the risk of melanoma and accelerates skin aging.

• Apply sunscreen every two hours to make sure you’re protected. Make sure your kids reapply if they have been sweating or swimming.

• Remember the sun is everywhere, protect your entire body, even your hands, nose and ears.

• Try to limit your time in the sun during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Make sure your family drinks plenty of water throughout the day.

• Should a sunburn occur, remove your child from the sun right away. Give him extra fluids for the next two to three days. Use moisturizing creams or aloe gel to provide comfort. When going outside, all sunburned areas should be fully covered to protect your child from the sun until healed. Seek emergency help if the sunburn forms blisters, or your child is in extreme pain, has a headache, fever or chills, after getting sunburned.

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Safe Alternatives to Tanning for Your Teens

Angela Bishop, beauty blogger

In recognition of Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, check out these helpful tips for your teens from our guest blogger, Angela Bishop. This make-up connoisseur and mommy of two, usually shares her beauty tips and tricks on her blogs, Beauty Store Dropout and Nine More Months.

With summer around the corner, many people are getting their skin “ready” for the season. It doesn’t hurt to spend small amounts of time in the sun, however more than 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure can be very bad. The number one danger of too much sun exposure is increased risk for melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer. Many people believe that a tanning bed is safer than going out in the sun, but the truth is that it can actually be worse.

Luckily, there are safer alternatives:

  • Spray tanning – Gives you almost immediate results, though only temporary. There are many different shades to choose from, so this works well for everyone. Read reviews and ask around to find the best tanning salon in your area.
  • Tanning lotion – Easy at-home way to get color, but can be tricky to apply. Most lotions are one shade only, so test a small spot on your skin before trying. For the best possible results, always exfoliate beforehand, and be sure to wash your hands well after applying.
  • Gradual tanner – Takes a few days to show, but as long as you regularly apply it you’ll continue to have a tan. Choose one with an SPF protection in it, and make it part of your daily routine.
  • Mineral bronzing powder – Instant gratification, can be adjusted to desired shade, and easily removable. One with shimmer will reflect light to give you a nice glow. Just like putting on makeup, make sure to highlight areas that are naturally touched by the sun, such as the top of your arms, shoulders, legs, and chest.
  • Tinted moisturizer – You may be familiar with this as a face product, but check your favorite beauty store and you may be surprised to find a tinted body lotion. Many of these are available with a shimmer as well, which will give you similar results to bronzing powder with the added benefit of moisturizing your skin.
  • Pale and pastel-colored clothing, such as light pinks, blues, or yellows. Try on different things to see what looks best with your skin tone. White is a good option as well, but if you have very fair skin, it can have the opposite effect, so be careful.

Whatever you choose, it’s important to always wear sunscreen if you plan on being outside for more than 15 minutes. Don’t forget about your scalp, either! A big floppy sun hat is a fashionable way to protect your head when you’re out.

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Slop That Sunscreen On!

Did you know that as much as 80 percent of a person’s lifetime sun exposure occurs by age 18? In recognition of Sun Safety Week, be sure to check out these useful guidelines to lessen the risk of sun damage.

    • Slop It On — Apply 30 SPF sunscreen every day. Cover all exposed skin, including hands, ears and the back of the neck. Reapply after swimming or if your child perspires excessively.
    • Keep It Cool — Schedule outdoor activities before 10 a.m. or after 2 p.m.
    • Cover Up — Outfit your children with broad brimmed hats and protective clothing that covers the arms and legs.
    • Protect Those Peepers — Choose real (not toy) sunglasses with polarized lenses for your children.
    • Babies Under 6 Months — A child is never too young for sunscreen. But it’s wise to keep babies under 6 months out of direct sunlight altogether. Their thin skin can burn after just minutes in the sun.
    • Higher SPF — While there are sunscreens made particularly for babies and toddlers, the most important thing to remember is that the higher the SPF and UVA stars, the better.

Summer is almost here – enjoy! For more sun safety information, please click here: http://www.choc.org/publications/articles.cfm?id=P00303&pub=KH&aid=522

Summer is Here – Don’t Forget Your Sunscreen!

Summer is officially here! As the weather warms up and you and your family start spending more time outside, it’s important to keep sun safety in mind to ensure a healthy and happy season. Check out the following Q & A with CHOC Pediatrician, Mark Colon, M.D., for some great tips about sunscreen.

Q:  At what age can I begin putting sunscreen on my child, and what SPF is best for young children?

A:  A child is never too young for sunscreen. But it’s wise to keep babies under 6 months out of direct sunlight altogether. Their thin skin can burn after just minutes in the sun. Dress infants in lightweight cotton pants, a long-sleeved shirt and a broad-brimmed hat for added protection.

Before using sunscreen, test a patch on your child’s back to make sure there’s no allergic reaction. Look for sunscreen that includes:

  • “Broad-spectrum” on the label. This means it will screen out both UVB and UVA rays.
  • SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 for UVB protection, and 45 for babies.
  • The new UVA “star” rating. Four stars is the highest protection available in an over-the-counter sunscreen, and the best for children

For sensitive areas, such as the nose, tops of the ears and the shoulders, choose a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

While there are sunscreens made particularly for babies and toddlers, the most important thing to remember is that the higher the SPF and UVA stars, the better. For best results, apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure. And remember to re-apply every two hours and after swimming.

A final note – just because your children are using sunscreen doesn’t mean they can stay in the sun all day. It just means they’re lessening the risks of sun damage.

Do you have any great sun safety tips? Post a comment and share!