Why is sun protection important for children and young people?
Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK and the number of cases is rising at an alarming rate. The good news is that the majority of these cases could be prevented. Most skin cancers are caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. If we protect ourselves from the sun then we can reduce our risk. This is particularly important for children and young people whose skin is more delicate and easily damaged.
Studies have found that sunburn during childhood can increase the risk of skin cancer later in life. You may not see the damage immediately because skin cancer can take years to develop, but children who are over-exposed to the sun now are storing up problems for the future.
The five key SunSmart skin cancer prevention messages can be promoted by using the SMART code:
S tay in the shade 11-3
M ake sure you never burn
A lways cover up – wear a t-shirt, hat and wraparound sunglasses
R emember children burn more easily
T hen use at least factor 15+ sunscreen.
Young children have sensitive skin that can be easily damaged by the sun's UV rays. Your children may also spend a lot of their time outdoors during the summer months. At this young age they are unable to take responsibility for their own sun protection. So parents and carers have a responsibility to ensure that children are appropriately protected from the harmful effects of too much sun.
Skin cancer prevention is important for all skin types, but those with fair skin are more susceptible to sun damage and particular care should be taken to ensure that children with fair skin are protected throughout summer. The UV Index is useful when thinking about protection for different skin types – visit the SunSmart website for more information: