As the warmer months bring the summer sports season in, it is more important than ever to protect your child's skin from the sun says Geelong plastic surgeon and skin cancer expert Dr Ian Holten.
Protecting children from overexposure to the sun's UV may assist in reducing their risk of developing skin cancer later in life as well as skin and eye damage. Long term overexposure along with sunburn is known to contribute to adult skin cancers, and prevention is always better than cure.
The Cancer Council Australia states that every year, in Australia:
Skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers
The majority of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun
GPs have over 1 million patient consultations per year for skin cancer
The incidence of skin cancer is one of the highest in the world, two to three times the rates in Canada, the US and the UK.
According to government statistics, 1.7 million (63%) children participated in at least one organised sport outside tennis, swimming, cricket, soccer, football, netball listed as outdoor sports last year. Many games and practices go for well over an hour, so this highlights the level of UV exposure kids are getting. Whilst the sun's provision of Vitamin D is excellent in small doses, overexposure without the correct protection is really a problem, particularly in Australia, says Holten.
Australia's Ozone layer problem is the main source. During summer, the Earth’s orbit brings Australia closer to the sun (as compared to Europe during its summer), resulting in an additional 7% solar UV intensity. Coupled with our clearer atmospheric conditions, this means that Australians are exposed to up to 15% more UV than Europeans.
While rare skin cancer can impact children, and we should be on the lookout for unusual looking spots, moles, and follow the ABCDE steps
A: Asymmetry (one side looks different from another)
B: irregular Borders
C: Color differences
D: Diameter (often more significant than 6 millimetres)
E: Evolution (a mole that appears to be changing over time).
If you notice anything unusual, seek advice from your doctor. In general, the earlier you identify and diagnose skin cancer, the better your prognosis.
Make sure you reduce overexposure of skin during peak hours of sunlight, check your kid's skin and if any doubt get them checked. Sport is wonderful, but please protect them. Always remember high-quality sun protection creams and clothing are also important says, Dr Holten.
Dr Holten's Australian Skin Face and Body clinics are located in Geelong, Horsham, Warrnambool and Ballarat. The ASFB team includes several General Practitioners and surgeons who are experts in skin cancer diagnosis. The ASFB team includes several General Practitioners and surgeons who are experts in skin cancer diagnosis .
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