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For children, having fun outside is a joy of summer. Protecting them from melanoma is important because their skin cells are more vulnerable to the sun and UV damage. Utah has the highest rates of melanoma in the U.S., the deadliest type of skin cancer.
Getting kids to comply with sun safety can be challenging. But each sunburn increases their risk of skin cancer later in life. Here are some strategies that can help:
- Establish a sun-safety rule in your household and make it a routine, especially in summer.
- Prepare a "go-bag" with choices of long-sleeved clothing or light-weight UV protective shirts, wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses and sunscreen.
- Change your strategies as kids get older.
- Explain the short term (sunburns hurt!) and long-term effects (cancer prevention).
- Since babies six months and younger are at a greater risk than adults of sunscreen side effects, it’s best to dress them in protective clothing and keep them in the shade as much as possible.
- Model good sun safety by practicing it yourself.
Always give [kids] choices. For example, if my two year old doesn't want to wear sunscreen one day I say, 'Ok, we will do this on your face and you can wear a long sleeve shirt instead'