Everybody needs to be mindful of the effects of the sun on their skin. This is even more important for Australians, where over three-quarter of a million people need treatment for at least one non-melanoma skin cancer each year. With around 2 out of 3 Australians being diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70, it's vital to ensure that the protection of skin happens early—children must be taught how to protect their skin as soon as possible. The earlier they learn to incorporate protective measures into their lives, the more routine the measures will become.
Living in a warm climate is a gift, and you want your children to enjoy the outdoors during the summer—particularly when they are indoors in front of screens for more than any other generation. But being outdoors requires conscientious protection from the sun. Aside from reducing your kid's risks of skin cancer, a good protective routine will slow down their skin ageing—they'll be grateful for this effort in years to come.
The first step towards protection is clothing and sunscreen. Make sure your children know that they need to wear hats and use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. They should reapply sunscreen every 3 hours if they're going to be outdoors all day.
They also need to understand the importance of having a regular skin cancer check. Making a yearly visit to a dermatologist is the ideal way to detect skin cancers early and reduce the chance of them becoming more serious. However, you can teach your children to check their skin regularly at home. When it comes to checking their backs, ask them to check each other.
Read on for a checklist of what they need to look for—it's as easy as A, B, C.
A is for asymmetrical: Are any dark spots not perfectly round?
B is for border: Is the border of a dark spot also irregular?
C is for Colour: Is the colour of a dark spot not uniform?
D is for diameter: Is the dark spot larger than the eraser at the top of a pencil?
E is for spot evolving: Is the dark spot changing its shape, colour, or intensity?
If following a skin check, any of the above apply, you need to teach your children to act fast—they should see a dermatologist as soon as possible. While you'll oversee their skin care in their early years, they will, at some point, need to take over and manage themselves. Make sure they know their cancer check ABCs before that time comes.