A new American study is definitive: the skin of children is fragile and the damage caused by the sun is serious. Here’s how to protect our little ones.
All you need to do is get five serious sunburns before the age of 20 to have an 80% greater chance of developing melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. This is according to a study conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, the study concludes that the risk of developing melanoma is directly associated with sun exposure before the age of 20.
Considering that melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer, that’s an alarming finding. However, these results do not surprise Dr. Joël Claveau, dermatologist at the Hôtel-Dieu de Québec. “For years, I have observed an increase in cases of melanoma among young people between the ages of 20 and 30. It is very worrying. We may have been carrying out awareness campaigns for a long time, it seems that the message is not getting through, ”laments this melanoma specialist. According to him, 80% of the sun that a person takes in his life occurs before the age of 14. “It is essential to do prevention very early in a child’s life.”
The actions to be taken to protect children are simple, but too often taken lightly, regrets Dr. Claveau. “Parents must remain vigilant and not rely on others to protect their children from the sun. For example, as competent as they are, educators cannot always coat children with cream perfectly and on a regular basis. Even at school, a child’s 20 minutes of recess can be harmful,” he says. His recommendations? We do not forget the hats and we prefer clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
That said, it is especially during adolescence that protection against the sun is the most laborious for parents. “It’s the fashion to sunbathe, to go to the tanning salon. We get a lot of sun, and we don’t always protect ourselves adequately. Unfortunately, there are consequences, I witness them every week.”
Since 2013, tanning salons have been prohibited for minors, but that does not mean that the salons apply the law. The solution to make our teenagers aware of sun protection? “If we talk about cancer to teenagers and young adults, it is useless. They don’t feel concerned. But if we focus on the premature aging of the skin, then we risk challenging them more,” says Dr. Claveau.