Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The two most common types of skin cancer are highly curable, but the third type --melanoma-- is more dangerous. About 65%-90% of melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, an invisible type of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps. Too much exposure to UV rays can change skin texture, cause the skin to age prematurely, and lead to skin cancer. UV rays also have been linked to eye conditions such as cataracts. Just a few serious sunburns can increase a child's risk of skin cancer later in life. Adults with a history of one or more blistering sunburns during childhood or adolescence are twice as likely to develop melanoma as those without such childhood sunburns, emphasizing the need to protect children and adolescents from UV radiation sun exposure beginning at an early age.
Children's skin needs protection from the sun's UV radiation whenever outdoors, year-round, particularly between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daylight savings time (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. standard time) when UV radiation exposure is strongest in the continental United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends avoiding sun exposure particularly during the midday hours by seeking shade; wearing clothing that covers exposed skin; wearing a wide-brim hat to shade face, head, ears, and neck; wearing sunglasses; and using a broad-spectrum sunscreen (having both UV-A and UV-B protection) with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.