Deep Bench: New guidelines for skin cancer prevention

Published: Mar. 23, 2018 at 4:58 PM CDT
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New federal guidelines recommend doctors start offering skin cancer prevention as early as six months old -- a drastic change from previous recommendations.

The new recommendations come from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force -- an independent panel of experts. It updated previous guidelines from 2012 that suggested skin cancer prevention and education begin at age 10. Doctors are now encouraged to suggest babies start using sunscreen and wear protective clothing when going outdoors.

Dr. Aga Thompson with the Aspiurs Dermatology Clinic agrees with the new recommendation.

"It's been known for years that it's really important to start sunscreen education at a really early age," Dr. Thompson said. "Teach kids these habits about wearing sunscreen, some protective clothing, hats, while they're outside enjoying the sun."

The guidelines are especially important for people under the age of 24 who have fair skin, freckles, and a family history of cancer. Dr. Thompson adds that children under 6 months should wear protective clothing when exposed to sunlight.

"After 6 months, you can start applying SPF," Dr. Thompson said. "SPF 30 or higher is recommended. "Starting sunscreen early on helps prevent sun damage and skin cancer as you get older."

Dr. Thompson says if you ever see a suspicious mole or lesion that is changing and/or growing, it's important to have it examined by a board certified dermatologist.