June 29, 2022 | By CATCH Global Foundation
The Summer season is coming in hot! As the days become longer and the sun rays become more intense, it’s important that we understand why protecting our skin is necessary for a long, healthy and happy life.
Current statistics estimate that a staggering 3.3 million Americans are diagnosed with basal and squamous cell skin cancers each year. Most often, skin cancer develops when skin cells become damaged from overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted by the sun.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, but luckily it’s highly preventable. The development of proper sun safety habits from an early age — through education, skills development, and practice – is crucial for young children to avoid the risk of skin cancer later in life.
Parents can role model sun safety by applying sunscreen and wearing UV-protective clothing, like long-sleeved shirts and wide-brimmed hats, prior to going outside. At least 30 minutes before going swimming, make “sunscreen time” a family affair, where everyone liberally applies SPF 30+ sunscreen at the same time. Let your kids see how you do it, and then let them practice copying you by applying it themselves (it might be a little while before they can do it on their own, so be sure to help out as needed). Make sure to reapply every two hours. Through role modeling, parents demonstrate that sun safety is the norm, which can turn these early healthy practices into lifelong habits for their kids.
Another way to help young children avoid the negative impact from the sun’s harmful rays is through education. As a free community resource, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center developed Ray and the Sunbeatables®: A Sun Safety Curriculum for PreK – 1st graders and Be Sunbeatable™ for 2nd – 5th graders. These fun, engaging lessons and resources are great for the classroom, after school programs, or summer camps. They’re also full of practical tips for parents! You can access the full program for free through the CATCH.org platform.
American Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/basal-and-squamous-cell-skin-cancer/about/key-statistics.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/statistics/index.htm