Safe Fun In The Sun

Did you know that 80% of your lifetime exposure to the sun occurs before age 20 and only one blistering sunburn in childhood is one of the major risk factors for developing melanoma. All tanning is damaging to the skin and there is no such thing as a “base tan” without skin damage. Actually, the skin ages much more rapidly with sun exposure. This is especially true for the face. Artificial tanning beds deliver four times the UV exposure of the noon time sun.

Stay away from the sun during the peak intensity hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Remember that clouds do not completely block the ultraviolet rays from reaching the ground. Also sand, water, cement and snow reflect the sunlight and intensify your exposure.

Use sunblock frequently and regularly. Apply it daily because sun exposure accumulates during regular activities throughout the day. Remember to reapply every 2 hours if in continued outside exposure. It is best to use waterproof sunscreens when swimming. Don’t forget commonly missed areas such as the ears and neck.

Cover exposed areas with light colored, tight weave clothing, especially on young babies for whom extensive sunscreen use is not recommended. Remember to use hats and sunglasses.

In general, physical sunscreens are preferable for children because they are less likely to cause an allergic reactions or skin and eye irritation. Examples of physical sunscreens are ones with either zinc oxide or titanium oxide as the active ingredients.

A few brands to specifically look for are Neutrogena, Waterbabies and Ombrelle.

SPF ratings over 30 do not give you significantly more protection from the sun’s rays. Most dermatologists believe SPF 30 is sufficient.

Sunscreen is safe to use on the exposed areas of infants under the age of 6 months, but protective clothing for this age group is also necessary.

Discard unused sunscreen at the end of the summer because sunscreens gradually loose their effectiveness.

see CDC most recent recommendations at www.cdc.gov/family/kids/summer

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