As the long, lazy days of summer are here, daily sun protection is recommended for everyone. Because children spend more time playing outdoors, a significant amount of lifetime sun exposure occurs before the age of 18. At Granite Falls Municipal Hospital, we want the children and adults in our area to keep sun smart and prevent sunburns and skin cancer.
There is overwhelming evidence that chronic sun exposure and sunburns (particularly in childhood) increase an individual’s lifetime risk of all forms of skin cancer, including melanoma. In 2009, more than 8,000 Americans died from melanoma.
Properly Protect Yourself By:
● Avoid deliberate sun bathing and indoor tanning.
● Seek shade whenever possible (especially between 10 AM and 4 PM)
● Wear protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and UV protective sunglasses.
● Use broad spectrum sunscreen.
● When purchasing sunscreen, look for a product with SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30.
Many children’s sunscreen products have an SPF of at least 50. Look for a product with “Broad Spectrum” coverage. This is the new sunscreen mandate that has been signed into law this year. This means it protects against both ultraviolet A and B rays from the sun. Generally, the active ingredients in sunscreens are either “physical blockers” (e.g. zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) or “chemical blockers” (e.g. oxybenzone, avobenzone and ecamsule, to name a few). For children select less irritating physical blockers, that are “sweat and water resistant”.
For maximum protection, sunscreen should be applied generously at least 15 minutes before going outdoors. It takes approximately 1 ounce (6 teaspoons) of sunscreen to adequately cover an average adult. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours, and more often when swimming and sweating. Infants under the age of 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Sunscreen can be applied to small areas of exposed skin, such as the face or backs of the hands. Sunscreen sticks are easy to apply to delicate areas, such as the nose, cheeks and ears.
What about sunscreen sprays? To ensure an even application, use a lotion or cream for the first application. After that, sprays are convenient for reapplication. Finally, parents should set a good example by protecting themselves from excessive sun exposure. Enjoy the sunshine!