Sunscreen is just one part of a sun-healthy lifestyle.
It's important to spend time outdoors, but by incorporating some common-sense protective measures, we can play outside while still minimizing our exposure to UV rays.
|1||USE SUNSCREEN that's effective and safe. Start with our "best" list. Make sure the SPF is 30 or higher. Buy new sunscreen every year and avoid powders and sprays.|
|2||GET YOUR VITAMIN D. Many Americans have low levels of Vitamin D. Sunlight triggers the skin to make this vitamin. The American Medical Association recommends that everyone get 10 minutes of direct sun (without sunscreen) several times per week.|
|3||KEEP KIDS SAFE since they're more sensitive to sun damage. Use sunscreen, play in the shade, and keep infants out of direct sun as much as possible. Check our special sun safety tips for kids below.|
|4||AVOID EXCESSIVE MIDDAY SUN WHEN INTENSITY PEAKS. Summer sun is more intense between 10 and 4, also at high altitudes and in the tropics.|
|5||SEEK SHADE OR BRING YOUR OWN. Cover up with a shirt, hat, and UV-protective sunglasses. Remember that invisible rays can reflect up toward you from the ground, so you may still need sunscreen if you wear a hat.|
|6||SLOP ON SUNSCREEN AND REAPPLY OFTEN. Put it on before you go out in the sun. Sunscreen washes off in water and can break down in the sun — reapply often. Wear daily on skin not covered by clothing.|
|7||AVOID PRODUCTS WITH BUG REPELLENT. You don't typically need them at the same time of day, and the mixture of ingredients leads to greater amounts of the pesticide soaking through the skin.|
|8||CHECK THE UV INDEX when planning outdoor activities.|
|9||SKIP SUNLAMPS AND TANNING BEDS Artificial tanning beds dramatically increase the risk of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Tanning bed use before age 30 is especially risky.|
|10||CHECK YOUR SKIN for spots and changes, and remember that natural tone (not just tan) is beautiful. You know your skin best, so examine it for changes, lesions, and spots regularly. Be extra careful if you have freckles, moles, take certain medications (such as some antibiotics), or have a family history of skin cancer. Early detection is best, so consult your doctor for more information.|
Sun Safety Tips For Kids
Kids are more vulnerable to damage caused by the sun. A few blistering sunburns in childhood can double a person's lifetime chances of developing serious forms of skin cancer. Keep your family safe in the sun by using a sunscreen that's effective and safe. Take these special precautions with infants and children:
Infants under 6 months should be kept out of direct sun as much as possible. Their skin is not yet protected by melanin. So when you take your infant outside, take special care:
- COVER UP your baby's sensitive skin with protective clothing, tightly woven but loose-fitting, and a sun hat.
- MAKE SHADE with your stroller's canopy or hood. If you can't find a shady spot to sit, put up an umbrella.
- AVOID SUN DURING MIDDAY — take walks in the early morning or late afternoon.
- FOLLOW PRODUCT WARNINGS FOR SUNSCREEN ON INFANTS UNDER 6 MONTHS OLD - Most manufacturers advise to avoid use for infants or to consult a doctor before using. The American Academy of Pediatrics now says that small amounts of sunscreen can be used on infants as a last resort when shade is not available.
TODDLERS AND CHILDREN
Sunscreen is an essential part of any day in the sun. However, young children have skin that is especially sensitive to chemical allergens, as well as the sun's UV rays. When choosing a sunscreen, keep these tips in mind:
- TEST THE SUNSCREEN by applying a small amount on the inside of your child's wrist the day before you plan to use it. If an irritation or rash develops at any time, try another product. Ask your child's doctor to suggest one that will not irritate.
- SLOP ON SUNSCREEN and reapply often, especially if your child is playing in the water or sweating a lot.
SUN SAFETY AT SCHOOL
Children should exercise healthy habits for outdoor play while at school. Sometimes school policies interfere with children's sun safety. Many schools see sunscreen as a medicine, and require written permission to use it, or require that the school nurse apply it. Other schools ban hats and sunglasses on campus. Here are a few questions to ask your school:
- What is the policy on sun safety?
- Is there shade on the playground?
- Are outdoor activities scheduled to avoid the midday sun?
Fashion-conscious teenagers may seek a tanned look through sunbathing, tanning salons, or use of self-tanning products. Each of these activities carries health consequences. Overexposure to the sun increases the risk of skin cancer. The tan obtained at a salon can also damage the skin — in fact, the UV radiation in tanning parlors can be as much as 15 times that of the sun. The chemicals in self-tanning products have not been tested for safety; the major self-tanning chemical, dihydroxyacetone, is not approved by FDA for use in cosmetics around the eyes.
Your teen should know that being tan does not mean being healthy. Here are a few more tips to help your teen stay healthy:
- MAKE SUNSCREEN A ROUTINE part of any outdoor sport or activity.
- FIND FASHIONABLE SUN PROTECTION clothing, hats, and sunglasses.
- PARENTS OF TEENS: BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL — be sure to let your teen see you protecting yourself from the sun.