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Year-Round Sun Protection

No parent wants his or her child to come home with a painful sunburn. Because skin damage is cumulative, too much exposure to the sun can lead to wrinkles, spots and even skin cancer later in life. Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, is on the rise. Fortunately, regular use of sunscreen can reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.
Skin Protection Tips
Here are 11 recommendations to protect you and your children from the sun:
  1. Stay out of the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Because the sun’s rays are at their strongest during the middle of the day, try to schedule outings for the morning, late afternoon or evening.
  2. Use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or more that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
  3. Before applying sunscreen, read the label thoroughly. Knowing the expiration date and the list of ingredients can help avoid an allergic reaction.
  4. Apply plenty of sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. Use two or three tablespoons and be sure to include the face, neck, ears, hands and feet. Consider using a sunscreen with zinc oxide, which is less likely to irritate skin.
  5. Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, with more frequent applications if your child is swimming. Water and perspiration wash away even “water-resistant” sunscreen.
  6. Don’t forget to protect your lips. Use a sunscreen stick for the lips, nose and mouth.
  7. Sunscreen is not recommended for infants 6 months of age or younger. Protect these little ones with protective apparel, an umbrella, and stroller shades.
  8. Have your child wear a long-sleeved shirt and a hat outdoors. A baseball cap with a brim provides some protection, but a shirt or hat made with sun-resistant fabric is even better. Remember, if you can see through a hat or shirt, the sun’s rays can get through.
  9. Wear sunglasses. UVA and UVB rays can damage the cornea and the retina, leading to cataracts, eye tumors or other serious conditions. Get your child in the habit of wearing sunglasses.
  10. Treat sunburns immediately. If your child has painful, red skin, large blisters or cracks on the skin, seek immediate treatment from your child’s pediatrician.
  11. Be a role model. Your children are more likely to develop healthy habits if you practice them.

Ana M. Duarte, MD, is the director of dermatology at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital.

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