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Dress Kids Right to Prevent Moles

 Until recently, it was believed that using sunscreen with an SPF factor of at least 15 was the best way to protect skin from the development of moles (a.k.a. benign melanocytic nevi). But a study of more than 1,800 kids has shown that sunscreen alone may not be enough.

“Covering up with a dry T-shirt is now recommended in addition to sunscreen,” says Fasahat Hamzavi, M.D., a dermatologist on staff at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. “A short-sleeved T-shirt made of at least 85 percent polyester provides about the same protection against sunlight as a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 5 to 10.”

Why worry about moles at all? There are some moles that can result in skin cancer. This risk of skin cancer is higher in individuals who have more moles. Adults typically have 10 to 40 moles on their bodies, yet it can be surprising to discover our children have them, too. Be aware of where their moles are and how they look, and check them regularly—once a month. Be sure to check your own at the same time! Dr. Hamzavi suggests doing a skin exam on the first Saturday of every month. Remember to check the skin on the head, palms, soles, and private parts, in addition to checking the skin on the rest of the body.

“Look for any signs of change, particularly a new black mole or a change in the outline, shape, size, color, or feel of an existing mole,” Dr. Hamzavi says. “Unusual or very unsightly moles are of particular concern. If you notice anything new or different, be sure to mention it to your child’s pediatrician as soon as possible so the mole can be examined and further treatment can be provided, if necessary.”

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