How to Talk to Your Teen about Tanning

Recent statistics show that teens are at a higher risk of skin cancer than ever. Find out how to talk to your teen about tanning.

While most cancer rates are on the decline, skin cancer rates continue to increase for both men and women. In fact, melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults and the second most common cause in teens. The good news is that skin cancer is highly survivable for this age group, and has a 90% survival rate over five years. But what can parents to do help educate their teens about the dangers of skin cancer and tanning? Consider these suggestions:

1) Share the facts. Educate your teens on some basic facts and share the risk factors, even if they are scary. One to point out is that your child's chance of a melanoma diagnosis increases by 75% if they use tanning beds before the age of 30.

2) Share your family history. Close to one in every 10 people diagnosed with melanoma has a family history of skin cancer. Make sure that your teen knows how often skin cancer has been diagnosed in your family.

3) Be a role model. Set an example by using sunscreen and sun protection around your children. They will be less likely to ignore the risks if you take them seriously.

4) Offer tanning alternatives. Be sure to point out that most "tan" celebrities use professional spray-tanning treatments to look that way. Try some self-tanning products with your teen and find the best alternatives.

5) Take a pledge. Many high schools nationwide are encouraging teens to take the pledge not to tan. Have your teen take the pledge and set an example to friends. Your teen might even join others as they plan "tan free" proms and other events.

6) Get screened. Share the signs and symptoms of skin cancer with your teen. If he or she notices any symptoms, make sure they see a physician right away. Remember, skin cancer is highly curable if caught early!

By empowering teens to lower their risk, they will be less likely to tan and have a future skin cancer diagnosis. Medical Center Arlington offers regular free skin cancer screening events. Be sure to visit us online or call 1-855-868-6262 for a physician referral.

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