Ways to Protect Kids from the Sun – Part 2

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Besides sunscreen, what else can I do to protect my family?

Keep your child out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UVB rays are most intense. Dress him in clothing that have a UV protection of at least SPF 30 or that have a tight weave (you shouldn’t be able to see easily through it) and make sure he wears sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats that protect his face, ears, and neck. Seek shade as much as possible.

Should my child wear sunglasses?

The skin around the eyes is vulnerable to UV damage too, so children should wear sunglasses starting at 6 months. Look for child-size sunglasses that offer at least 99 percent UVA and UVB protection, cover as much skin as possible (wraparound styles are great), and are impact- or shatter-resistant.

When should I start checking my child’s skin for changes, and what should I look for?

The odds of your child developing skin cancer are low (about 3 percent for melanoma per The Skin Cancer Foundation), and it’s normal for new moles to appear and to change in size and color as your child grows. Still, it’s wise for you (and eventually your child) to become familiar with her skin so you identify any changes immediately. “Look over your child’s skin while doing diaper changes or giving baths. Get to know her moles,” Dr. Leachman says. Be on the lookout for moles that are: asymmetrical (one side’s different than the other); a mix of brown, tan and black colors; bigger than a pencil eraser; notched, uneven, or blurry-looking around the borders; itching or bleeding. “The earlier you and your child start self skin checks, the more likely it’ll become a lifelong — potentially life-saving — habit for her,” Dr. Leachman says.

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