Skincare has always been important to me. I'm not talking about fighting off wrinkles--I'm talking about preserving the health of our skin from the inside out. Now that I'm a mom, it's even more important to protect my children.
We all know the importance of slathering sunscreen on--but it goes deeper than that. I've recently teamed up with The Claire Marie Foundation to do my part to bring awareness to an often misdiagnosed and silent killer: adolescent melanoma.
The Claire Marie Foundation was established in 2014 following the death of Claire Marie Wagonhurst, a sparkling 17-year old who lost a long battle with adolescent melanoma as a result of changes her body went through during puberty. Their mission is to raise awareness, clarity and hope in the fight against adolescent melanoma while celebrating the joy, color and beauty Claire embraced every day.
Here's what we can do:
FACT #1: Melanoma is the number two cancer in young people from ages 10-19 and most common cancer in young adults aged 20-30. The signs in children and young adults can look drastically different than what would normally be seen in adults. This makes it often missed or misdiagnosed. Many times it's an atypical mole on a child that isn't taken for biopsy.
FACT #2: It's not always about sun exposure. More research is being conducted about melanoma developing as a result of pregnancy and puberty. This is due to moles becoming more active during hormonal changes.
FACT #3: While fair-skinned children with light colored hair and freckles are still considered to be at greater risk, it has been documented that children with darker pigmented skin and those with skin that is less sun sensitive are developing melanoma especially under the age of 13.
FACT #4: Only a qualified professional who understands pediatric melanoma can make a diagnosis, but immediately have your child evaluated if you observe any of the following signs: (courtesy Melanoma Research Foundation)
- A bump that itches and bleeds
- A spot that looks like an unusual wart – sometimes non-pigmented or with a pinkish color
- An amelanotic lesion – a lump on the skin that isn’t dark or black (like many adult melanomas)
- A mole that becomes nodular – very bumpy and sticking out far from the rest of the skin
- A lesion that presents as a nodule, or lump, especially one that has been rapidly enlarging
- Moles that look strange or large – especially a mole that looks DIFFERENT from your child’s other moles or has more than one color
The Claire Marie Foundation has also launched a program this spring to offer free skin cancer screenings to young people. It offers access to dermatologists who evaluate and if necessary, provide access to remove atypical moles before malignancy develops.
For more information and to donate to fund further research, visit the Claire Marie Foundation website here.
Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.