Have you ever wondered why skin cancer is so prevalent in the United States? Part of the answer is, in spite of knowing that sun exposure causes wrinkles and premature skin aging, many people don’t truly understand how the sun’s UV rays actually cause skin cancer. Sadly, one in five Americans WILL get skin cancer and there are more cases every year than all other forms of cancer combined! Furthermore, despite the fact that many types of cancers are on the decline, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that rates of deadly skin cancers have doubled during the last three decades: melanoma rates increased from about 11 people per 100,000 in 1982 to 23 people per 100,000 in 2011, according to the report. The stark reality is: most people do not realize that skin cancer risks begin when we are children and it doesn’t take that many sunburns for skin damage to occur.
Children are born with nearly perfect skin. Smooth, wrinkle-free, plump and glowing…in other words: flawless. And skin will stay this way until the ravages of the sun take hold and start to slowly cause damage. We see this in the form of slight discoloration or dark spots on the face, typically on the cheeks, nose, and forehead, and this hyperpigmentation tends to start around 7 or 8 years old or earlier. A good way to see this for yourself is to look closely at photos of your children and really take notice of their skin. As time goes on, damage compounds. Skin ages naturally, but the damage is accelerated by the sun and UV rays. Many parents do not realize this, but 80% of lifetime UV Ray absorption occurs before a child turns 18 and it is estimated that up to 90% of skin damage occurs from the sun.
And while this discoloration is alarming, the truly scary thing is what happens to your child’s skin on a cellular level when burned. Sunburn or redness is simply the body’s defense mechanism and a way of protecting itself. After all, skin is our largest organ, and redness is a sign that UV rays have mutated keratinocytes: the skin cell’s DNA. Sunburn can be mild or in severe cases can even blister. Over time these mutated cells multiply, divide or compound and ultimately can develop into skin cancer. The key is to avoid this kind of skin damage is to prevent sunburn before it even starts.
Alarmingly, if a child gets just five severe sunburns, they double their chances of getting skin cancer over time. They triple their chances of developing skin cancer by getting a painful sunburn just once every two years!
What to do? When you consider the scary truth of skin cancer and skin damage, the only answer for your child’s skin is everyday skin care. Make sure you use a moisturizer with an SPF of at least 15, as recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation. DermalYouth makes it easy and has created the worlds first Children’s Skincare System. Of course, when participating in high sun activities, it is even more critical to use SPF. When water is involved, use a waterproof all-natural SPF Broad Spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30.
Another important reminder is that UV rays don’t discriminate. All ethnicities and skin types are at risk and everyone should use a moisturizer with SPF every day, 24/7/365. Yes, every day and all year long. UV ray absorption is cumulative and UV rays can be strong in all seasons.
The dental industry has done a wonderful job ingraining the importance of brushing our teeth everyday—morning and night for preventative care. The skin care industry needs to catch up. DermalYouth is spreading the word about everyday skin care for children, which will hopefully, help reduce premature skin aging and skin cancers. If you have a child or know someone with children, please help spread the word and forward them this important article. Skin care for children isn’t just for high sun activities; it is for EVERY DAY, just like brushing teeth!