From the Health Services Office


Childhood sunburns can increase your child’s risk of developing skin cancer as an adult. Even a suntan can be harmful to children.  Tanning is an outward sign of internal skin damage. Research shows that much of the damage to skin is done in the first 18 years of life.  Protecting skin and eyes during these early years can reduce the risk of some types of skin cancer by up to 78%. Melanoma is a cancer of younger people and can start as early as adolescence.

Youth and Skin Cancer

  • 50% of lifetime exposure to UV light occurs during childhood and adolescence.
  • It can take less than 10 minutes for a child’s skin to burn.
  • Children with severe sunburns are at an increased risk for skin cancer.
  • A person born today is twice as likely to develop malignant melanoma compared to someone born only a decade ago and 12 times more likely as someone born 50 years ago.

Teach Children Sun Safe Habits

Children learn healthy habits best at a young age.  Therefore, it is important to begin protecting your children from the beginning and teach them the importance of sun safety.  With sun damage accumulating over a person’s lifespan, beginning sun safety habits at a young age should be a priority.

  • Maximize protection between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Wear sun protective, light colored clothing including long sleeved shirts and pants made of tightly woven fabric.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat that protects head, face, ears and neck.  If a baseball cap is worn, make sure to use sunscreen on ears and neck.
  • Wear UV-protective sunglasses with 99%-100% UV absorption.
  • During peak sun hours (10-4pm) seek shade.  Shadow rule-if your shadow is shorter than you, the sun’s rays are at their strongest and you should seek shade.
  • Encourage children to play in shaded areas, especially during peak sun hours.
  • Use a sunscreen of SPF 15+ and apply a generous amount 30 minutes before going outside.
  • Reapply Sunscreen every 90 minutes or after swimming, towel drying or perspiring, even if the label says the product is waterproof.  Don’t forget the lips and ears-both areas can burn just as easily.
  • Strongly discourage the use of tanning beds.

Further information can be found on the following web sites: