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A Parent's Guide to Preventing Childhood Skin Cancer

Posted on 17 April 2023

A Parent's Guide to Preventing Childhood Skin Cancer

Summer is approaching, and outdoor activities are in full swing. As you prepare your family for a fun summer, you should know the risks of sun exposure — childhood skin cancer — to make the right choices for your family.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Nearly 70 million people (1 in 5) live with skin cancer, some of which are children. While skin cancer is less common in children than adults, it can pose risks to your child.

Learn about the most common types of skin cancer and find science-backed strategies to keep your child safe this summer and beyond.

3 Types of Childhood Skin Cancer

1. Melanoma

Melanoma is the most common type of childhood skin cancer. It occurs when pigment-producing cells that give color to the skin become cancerous. The AAD estimates that between 300 and 400 childhood cases are diagnosed yearly. In addition, melanoma is usually identified by new growths or changes to existing moles. However, it can look different in children than in adults. Signs to look for in your child include:

  • A red, pink, purple, or flesh-colored spot or growth
  • A bleeding or itchy spot or growth
  • A growth that looks like an open sore
  • A bump that proliferates
  • A dark streak beneath a finger or toenail

2. Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer. It occurs when exposure to UV rays triggers abnormal changes in the squamous cells. While squamous cell carcinoma is usually diagnosed in adults, it can still happen in children. As such, you should stay on the lookout for these signs:

  • Rough or scaly bumps that may bleed or crust over
  • Wart-like growths
  • A raised growth that's lower in the center
  • An open sore that doesn't heal

3. Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that most often develops on areas of skin exposed to the sun, like the face. The five most common warning signs include:

  • An open sore that does not heal and may bleed, ooze, or crust
  • A reddish patch or irritated area on the body
  • Shiny bump or nodule that is clear, pink, red, or white
  • A small pink growth with a raised edge and crusted indentation
  • A scar-like area that is flat white, yellow, or waxy in color

How to Prevent Childhood Skin Cancer

While skin cancer is a threat, especially in the summer months, there are many strategies you can use to keep your child safe. The CDC recommends doing the following:

  • Be mindful of UV rays, which are strongest from 10 AM to 4 PM.
  • Avoid direct exposure when the UV index is three or higher.
  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after your child swims/sweats.
  • Dress your child in sun-protective clothing. Little Leaves Clothing Company's dermatologist-designed clothing offers sun protection for the whole family, from shirts to sun hats to dresses. With an all-natural ultraviolet protection (UPF) of 50+, our designs keep your child safe and stylish at the same time.
  • Make sure your child has access to shade.
  • Perform regular skin exams on your child.

With these strategies, you can ensure that your family stays happy, healthy, and — with Little Leaves' sun-protective clothing by your side — ready for plenty of summer fun.


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