Effects of Early Sun Exposure
If you are having any symptoms or have any questions, please call 811 to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day.
There is a direct link between sun exposure and most skin cancers. The ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight penetrate skin, damaging it. For years, healthcare providers have warned that sun exposure can cause skin cancer. But research now shows that getting sunburned at a young age puts you at even greater risk for skin cancer.
Many studies show that getting severe sunburns as a child have a greater risk of developing skin cancer.
Your chances of developing skin cancers depend on other factors, too, including physical traits. For example, if you have red hair and fair skin, your skin cancer risk increases. This is also true if you are more susceptible to sunburns in general, or have a higher number of moles, according to the studies.
Path to improved health
Parents must be committed to protecting children from sun exposure. They also much teach their adolescent children to continue smart sun protection. Daily sun protection is key, not just while kids are at the pool or beach.
The Government of Canada offers these tips for protecting your child from the sun:
- Made in the shade. Try to avoid being outside in the middle of the day, when the sun’s UV rays are their strongest. This is when sun does the most damage. If your child has to be outside during this time, try to keep them in the shade of a tree or umbrella.
- Cover up. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants provide good protection from the sun.
- Grab a hat. A hat can offer some great sun protection. Choose one with a wide, circular brim. This not only will protect your child’s face, but will protect his or her neck and ears, too. If you choose a baseball-styled cap, be sure to remember to use sunscreen on your child’s ears and neck.
- Wear sunglasses. The sun doesn’t just threaten your skin, it threatens your eyes, as well. UV rays can cause cataracts later in life. Look for children’s sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
- Remember the sunscreen. If your child is going to be outside, always use sunscreen. Choose a sunscreen that is at least 30 SPF. Maximize protection by applying sunscreen at least 30 minutes before your child is going to be outside.
Things to consider
There is no such thing as a healthy tan. Tanned skin is damaged skin. Even if you don’t get a sunburn, you are still doing damage to your skin and increasing your risk of skin cancer.
Tanning beds are not safer than being out in the sun. People who use tanning beds are at great risk for developing skin cancer. In fact, some reports estimate that the risk increases by 75% for people who use a tanning bed before the age of 35.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
- Is sunlight a good source of vitamin D?
- Is there a way to predict if I will develop skin cancer?
- Can I reverse the damage caused by UV exposure?
- Can genetics make me less at risk for skin cancer?
- Does a family history of skin cancer put me more at risk?
- How often should I do a self-check for skin cancer?
- What should I do if I suspect a spot on my skin could be cancerous?
- What is the treatment process for skin cancer?
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Government of Canada Website