Slip, slop, skin cancer? A quick guide to skin cancer in children

Posted on: 7 September 2017


Living under the harsh Australian sun, it's natural for parents to worry about their child's skin protection. Although skin cancer in children is rare, it's still vital for prevention and early detection that parents know what to look out for. Check out this quick guide to skin caner in children to ensure your kids have healthy skin.

What skin features should my child have checked?

Most children have a few freckles and moles, but if your child's skin is showing abnormal changes, it may be time for a routine skin cancer check. If your child has a mole that is asymmetrical, has a blurry border, is an unusual colour, a large diameter, or a raised surface, it's time for a skin check. A mole that has changed in appearance, itches or bleeds should also be checked as soon as possible. If in doubt, take the time to chat with a medical professional.

Does my child need regular skin cancer checks?

As your child's primary caregiver, you are in the best position to keep an eye on their skin on a daily basis. If your child has moles and freckles, take the time to check them yourself on a regular, informal basis. Keep your eye out for any changes in the appearance of moles on your child's body, paying particular attention to areas that you might overlook including their feet and scalp. You can start checking your child's skin from birth onwards, however melanoma rarely occurs in pre-pubescent children and other forms of skin cancer usually result from many years of sun damage. If your child has a family history of melanoma, has a very large number of moles, very fair skin or has experienced lots of sunburn, have a paediatric dermatologist conduct a full check of your child's skin to rule out any existing or potential skin cancers.

How should I prevent skin cancer developing in my child?

Thankfully, Australian families and schools are pretty sun-safe. To continue preventing your child from developing skin cancer, it's important to ensure they wear sunscreen, a hat with adequate coverage, sunglasses and sun-protective clothing. Your child should also limit their time in the sun during the middle of the day in summer, when the UV levels are at their highest. If you do witness any skin changes in your child, the best preventative measure is to seek a health check as soon as possible.

To have your child's skin checked or for more advice on preventing skin cancer development as your child grows, chat with your local paediatric dermatologist or family GP today.