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Your Child and Skin Cancer- What You Should Know.

Dr. Asarch was recently quoted in an article for SHE KNOWS titled “Checking Your Child for Skin Cancer”. Here are some of the notable quotes…

How can you help prevent your child from getting skin cancer?

…”Sunscreen — especially on vacations,” says Dr. Woolery-Lloyd. “One study showed that children who went on sunny vacations had a greater number of atypical moles.”

And what about newborns and infants? “Avoiding the sun when the baby is born is a start and you can start applying sunscreen after the age of 6 months. However the best prevention for all children is to stay in the shade. Since most skin cancers are a result of cumulative sun damage, the less exposure to sun damage and burns, the better the long-term preventive value.” says Dr. Hellman.

Dr. Richard Asarch, a board certified Denver dermatologist, also reminds parents that sunscreen needs to be applied daily and not just on sunny days. “Even on a cloudy day, up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can pass through the clouds. Apply an SPF of at least 30 15-20 minutes before sun exposure to allow a protective film to develop.” Asarch continues, “Re-apply every two hours or after excessive sweating or swimming. Use enough sunscreen to generously coat all exposed skin.”…

Be aware of the myths

If you still believe your child may not be at risk for developing skin cancer, Dr. Asarch urges you to consider these myths:

  • Tanning or getting a base tan helps prevents skin cancers — False.
  • There is little risk of sunburning on cloudy days — False.
  • The sun is more intense at the hot summer beach than in the cool mountain elevations — False. Check the UV index for the area you live in to determine the risk.
  • My child is not at risk because he has dark skin — False. While it is true that skin cancer is less likely in darker pigmented skin, it is not risk free. Sun protection is essential for all skin types, tones and pigmentations.

Read the full article on SHE KNOWS HERE.

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**Read Dr. Asarch’s original article on Skin Cancer and Children below.

The development of skin cancer in children is not common as basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma development is related to a cumulative exposure to ultraviolet light. Children, in general, do not accumulate enough UV exposure to create these tumors until later in life.

However, sun exposure can be more dangerous for children than adults. As we age, our skin develops a protective melanin pigment to help prevent sun burns. In infants and young children, this pigment is under-developed leading to a higher risk of sun burns and damage. Protection from UV exposure is essential for all children, but particularly important for those with very fair skin, moles -or whose parents have a tendency to develop moles- and a family history of skin cancer, including melanoma.

Skin type can also be indicative of a child’s risk for developing skin cancer. If your child has many freckles, moles or very fair skin, he or she is more at risk of developing skin cancer. Frequent exposure also plays a role. For example, a child who lives at a high altitude and sunny climate may develop skin cancer quicker than a child who lives at a lower altitude. A sunny climate usually means a child will be outdoors more frequently year round and the intensity of the sun’s rays is increased at a higher altitude. Checking your cities UV index will help you determine how risky sun exposure is. Of course, protection from UV exposure with a broad-spectrum sunscreen or block of at least 30 SPF on all exposed skin year-round is recommended.

The first indication of skin cancer in children would be a change in the shape, size or color of a skin growth, including moles and birthmarks. An annual skin check with your Dermatologist will help track these skin growths for changes. More frequent home checks are the easiest method of noticing new or changing growths.

Use the “ABCDE rule,” which stands for asymmetry, border, color, diameter and evolution, as a guideline for spotting dangerous skin changes. Has there been change in a mole or birthmark where one half of the blemish does not match the other half (asymmetry)? Has the border of the blemish become blurred or ragged (border)? Is there a change or spread of color (color)? Has the blemish grown in size or evolved in any other way (diameter, evolution)?

Most moles do not pose a threat, however some have the potential to become cancerous. If you notice visible changes or your child complains of itching, burning or tenderness to the touch in any skin blemish, see your Dermatologist as soon as possible.

It is not recommended to use sunscreens before 6 months of age, making it essential to keep infants out of the sun whenever possible.  If your infant must be in the sun, dress them in clothing that covers the body, including hats with wide brims and seek shade.

After 6 months of age use a broad-spectrum sunblockthat offers a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. If your child is prone to skin

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irritation or allergic reactions, select a physical sunblock or chemical-free sunscreen containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide

 Sun Protection Facts:

  •  Repeated exposure to UVA and UVB rays causes damage to the cells of the epidermis resulting in the production of wrinkles, age spots and actual skin cancers.
  • Cumulative sun damage can lead to basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Physical Sun blocks (Zinc Oxide &Titanium Dioxide) provide broad spectrum protection blocking both UVA and UVB rays and are gentle enough for daily use.
  • Chemical Sunscreens are combinations of many active ingredients with no single chemical ingredient blocking the entire UV spectrum (unlike physical sun blocks)
  • Sunblocks are only effective if you use them appropriately every day.
  • Even on a cloudy day, up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can pass through the clouds.
  • Apply SPF 15-20 minutes before sun exposure to allow a protective film to develop.
  • Re-apply every 2 hours or after excessive sweating or swimming
  • Use enough sunscreen to generously coat all exposed skin.
  • Try to avoid sun exposure between10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the strongest sun of the day.
  • Seek shade when your shadow is shorter than you are.
  • Snow and Sand can increase the need for sunscreen due to their reflective properties.
  • Protect your skin by wearing long sleeves, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses whenever possible.
  • Check your cities UV index to determine your risk.

 

Sun Protection Myths:

  • Tanning or getting a base tan helps prevents skin cancers — False.
  • There is little risk of sunburning on cloudy days — False.
  • The sun is more intense at the hot summer beach than in the cool mountain elevations — False. Check the UV index for the area you live in to determine the risk.
  • My child is not at risk because he has dark skin — False. While it is true that skin cancer is less likely in darker pigmented skin, it is not risk free. Sun protection is essential for all skin types, tones and pigmentations.

 

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