Should You Have Your Child Screened for Skin Cancer?
Like most parents, you want what’s best for your child. You treat every sickness with a sense of urgency and ensure that they have a yearly visit with their pediatrician. But did you know that your child should also be getting a yearly screening for skin cancers? If this wasn’t on your radar, you’re not alone. Childhood skin cancer isn’t widely discussed but can pose a very serious problem.
Pediatric Melanoma is on the rise.
There are several different types of skin cancer. The least common of these overall is Melanoma, but it is also the most dangerous. Melanoma is, however, the most common type of skin cancer diagnosed in children and adolescents.
While it is still rarer for children to develop skin cancer than it is for adults, it’s an increasing problem. Over the age of 10, children have the same risk factors as adults for developing skin cancers. This is why it’s just as important for our children to have yearly screenings for skin cancer as it is for ourselves.
Why is a yearly screening so important?
All forms of skin cancer are more treatable with early detection. Some forms of the disease have up to 95% curability, which means that early detection is the best detection.
Detecting skin cancers in children can be different than it is for adults, so it’s important to visit a dermatologist specially trained in detecting and treating all forms of skin cancer as well as one that is experienced in working with children.
Also, consider the fact that a yearly screening helps children and adolescents become comfortable making skin health a priority. They can learn what to look for and how to do home skin-checks, recognizing warning signs and seeking the appropriate care.
Reduce your child’s risk.
As with adults, the risk factors for childhood skin cancer include sun exposure, use of tanning beds, a family history of skin cancer, and having fair skin.
You can protect your child by encouraging daily use of sunscreen regardless of the weather or the amount of time spent outdoors. Sunscreen should have an SPF of over 30 and should be reapplied every 2 hours for maximum effectiveness, especially when in the water. Remember that activities in the snow or water, and at higher altitudes, can be especially dangerous due to the intensity of the sun’s rays in these settings.
Be sure to warn children, especially teens, of the dangers of using tanning beds.
Share the importance of care.
In addition to a yearly screening with a licensed dermatologist, encourage your child to recognize the early signs of skin cancer on their own. Help them understand the disease and look for changes in existing moles and freckles as well as new growths and lesions on the skin.
Our approach to skin care should never be fear-based, especially when dealing with children and teens. Instead, arm your children with the knowledge and care they need to make healthy, informed decisions and to feel confident in the care they show themselves.
At Blue Ocean Dermatology, we are experienced in providing gentle skin care and cancer screenings for children and are happy to answer any questions.