Three Rules of Sunscreen


While parents and caregivers typically think of sun safety during the summer months, protecting a child’s skin from the harmful rays of the sun is something worth considering year round. Even on cool and cloudy fall days, the sun emits harmful ultraviolet rays. Overexposure to these rays can lead to skin cancer.

When choosing sunscreen for children, keep these three things in mind:

Sunscreen should provide broad spectrum coverage. Sunscreens with broadband coverage protect from UVA and UVB sunrays. UVA rays can prematurely age skin and cause wrinkles and age spots. UVB rays are the primary cause for sunburns.

Use sunscreen with SPF rating of at least 15.  The American Cancer Society recommends that people use a sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15, the American Academy of Dermatology opts for 30.

Use water-resistant sunscreen.  All sunscreen eventually will wash off. Choose a water-resistant sunscreen and reapply as directed for maximum protection.

Most people do not apply enough sunscreen. For adults, it takes approximately one ounce to properly coat the body. Children will require less, depending on their size.

For parents interested on evaluations of sunscreen safety and effectiveness, the Environmental Working Group is a solid resource. Parents and caregivers can look up sunscreen ratings of their products and use the guide to choose products more suitable for the children and family.

In addition to applying sunscreen, wearing protective clothing and staying in shade when the sun is at its strongest, between 10 am and 4 pm, can be proactive factors against sunburns and skin cancer.

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