Understanding that Teens and Sun Equal Danger is the start of helping your tween and teens understand protecting their skin.
We know that when we were young, Teens And Sun Equal Sun was a true statement. The difference is that my parents weren’t as aware of the dangers of too much sun as we are now.
While it would be great to turn the tweens and teens loose to protect their own skin, it may not be the best for their skin safety.
Research is proving that adolescence marks the time there is a steady decline in skin protection from the sun. They are getting old enough to go with friends and not be under their parents’ supervision all the time.
As they are spending more time with friends, they also find out that some think sun tans are important. They learn that by laying out in the sun, they can have a tan as well. They may halfway use sunscreen, but even if they sunburn, the tan skin after the healing is worth the discomfort, they think.
This makes you know that they really still need your guidance. These are just little kids in big kids bodies. They just don’t understand the dangers.
These kids may know more, and have some exposure to safe sun education, but their behaviors have not changed. Will more education do the trick?
Will More Education Help Your Teen To Be Safe In The Sun?
In one study of ways to help teens be more sun safe with their skin, this was tested.
The teens who were in the study filled out a work sheet indicating their sun safety habits.
Before the one day class about skin safety:
42% had intent to use sunscreen as well as practice safer sun habits, but did not at that time do so. They did not use sunscreen at all.
21% of the group were consistent users of sunscreen and safe sun habits.
The sun safety education included viewing their own skin under a UV filtered light to see the sun damage on their young screen. The participants all got to see their own skin and the skin of their classmates.
After the day of education about sun safety and skin protection, only one third of the 42% of students planned to change their non sunscreen, sun protection habits.
However, of the ones who already had damage that could be seen with the special lamp, 59% expressed intention to use sunscreen in the next month.
The result of this study suggested that brief educational intervention that pointed out the risks to each student on their own skin could have some influence these youngsters to protect their skin.
The suggestion added that a long term study should follow up these efforts. More study could identify more esplaniations of their personal skin risks, similar to the viewing under the UV lamp to raise awareness. Awareness and responsible actions are what is needed for sun safety.
Guide For Teens to Do A Skin Check
Guidelines from the American Academy of Dermatology for doing a skin self exam every Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer.
In these self inspections of their skin, teens are mostly looking for suspicious looking moles.
To do a self exam, your teen will need a full-lenth mirror, a hand mirror, and a well-lit room.
Starting with looking at the skin on your body
- Standing in front of the full-length mirror, with no clothes on, visually examine the skin on the front of your body. Start at the top of your face, all the way down to your toes. Turn around and examine the back half of your body. Turn sideways and raise your arm. Look for moles on your side all the way up and down. Change sides, raise your arm and check out your other side.
M D Anderson give this general guideline for moles:
Is melanoma found in a flat or raised mole?
“The most common type of melanoma usually appears as a flat or barely raised lesion with irregular edges and different colors. Half of melanomas occur in preexisting moles.”
When should you worry about a mole?
It’s important to get a new or existing mole checked out if it changes shape or looks uneven. If it changes colour, gets darker or has more than 2 colours, or starts itching, crusting, flaking or bleeding. These are changes that need to be checked out.
Recheck your skin closely
- Now, bend both elbows. Look carefully at the skin on your forearms. Next, check the back of your upper arms. Then the palms of your hands. Make use of the hand held mirror when needed to check your skin throughly.
- Then, look at the backs of your legs and your feet. Look in the spaces between your toes. Now the soles of your feet. Remember you are looking mostly for moles on your skin. If you have several, knowing how many you have on your body is a good safe guard. Count them and write the number down somewhere that you can find again.
- Hold up your hand mirror and examine the back of your neck and scalp. Part your hair to lift if you have especially heavy hair.
- Don’t forget to check the skin on your back and buttocks with the hand mirror.
What to do if you notice anything unusual
- Should you notice any unusual-looking moles, tell your Mom or Dad so they can get an appointment with your usual doctor. This doctor can help you with the next stage. Skin cancer is very treatable when you catch it early.
Helping your teen understand how important it is to protect your skin, is often a challenge. We all wish we could tell the 16 year old self to never start tanning. However, having been 16, we also understand the conflicting advise that was coming our way.
Arming out teens with a good start at sun protection in their earlier years, good sun safe habits and helping them understand about covering their skin is an ongoing battle.
Remembering The Layered Approach To Skin Protection
While wearing a 15 SPF sunscreen is better than no sunscreen, the CDC is saying that some protection is important. Eventhough such a low number of SPF will help, you still can’t stay safe all day without UPF clothing and using some safe sun habits.
Remembering to avoid the sun at peak sun times and spending some time in the shade. Wearing a sun blocking hat, sunglasses and sun blocking shirt will give you extra protection in the sun. Remember sunscreen on your face and any other place you are not covered with clothing. Don’t forget reapplying often.
The protection of multiple layers will give you better sun protection, allowing more fun in the sun without sunburn.
Stay hyderadeted. When you become dehyderadeted, you will burn quicker. If you are taking antihistamines, or Tylenol or Motrin, your skin will be more sensitive. So many things can contribute to our skin being more sensitive. Help your teen protect themselves by giving them information.
Sami’s Take on Teens and Sun Equal Danger
I do agree that teens seem to carry the bullet proof “won’t happen to me” pretty far. It is difficult to know if you are making a difference.
Making sure your teens have UPF clothing, from sunglasses and sun hat to sunblocking shirts is so important.
If the budget doesn’t stretch, use the laundry additive, Rit Sun Guard to wash your teens clothes to make the garments in their closet protect them better. Having favorite tee shirts, has always been a challenge. The mere fact of being a teen, and growing up. Testing limits and boundaries. Parents are doing the best they can.
I do understand that reminding them is not the most effective way to get them to take better care of themselves. That is why there is the effort for knowledge of what teens can do for themselves. Education does help, and often will help them make better choices.
I have a grandson going into the tween years. I see the blank look when he is warned of risky behavior. It only becomes more pronounced as he gets older. As parents and grandparents, we can do the best we can with gentle reminders and suggestions. Always role model safe skin in the sun.
What are your secrets to helping your teens stay safe? Do you have some proven information to share? Please leave in the comment section.