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How to Keep Your Teen Safe From the Sun

Thursday, June 07, 2012

 

Melanoma is the most common cancer in young women between 25-29, and much of the damage begins in their teens, according to experts. Photo: Peter Organisciak/flickr.

It only takes one blistering sunburn to increase your risk of skin cancer, according to experts. Just one. And with melanoma, a potentially fatal skin cancer, the most common cancer in young women between the ages of 25 and 29, much of the damage from the sun in these young women will already have occurred in their teens. Although more adults are using sunscreens during outdoor activities, many are unaware of how important it is to make sure that their children are getting the necessary skin protection.

GoLocalWorcester reached out to Dr. Mary Maloney, Chief of Dermatology, at UMass Memorial Medical Center for some tips on keeping your teens safe from the sun this summer.

What are the three most important things a teen can do to minimize sun exposure?

The three most important things are to use sunscreen every day, seek shade, and avoid tanning booths.

What do teens forget when it comes to tanning?

Teens forget that tanning is a marker of sun damage and will lead to WRINKLING when they are older.

Is there more or less pressure on teens these days to look tan, in your experience?

I think there is actually a little less pressure to tan now, but the change is very slow.

What are some signs parents should watch for that might indicate their kids have sun damage?

Sun damage is very subtle in young people. Maybe there will be some very fine wrinkling, but usually there is not much visible. What you can see is a tan or intermittent sun burn. Sun burn is a huge tip off.

How much more are teens at risk for cancer late in life if they over-expose themselves to the sun at a younger age?

I don't have the numbers at my fingers, but there is a very significant risk for teens who use tanning booths to get melanoma, and tanning will also lead to non-melanoma skin cancer. 

 

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