Sun Safety & Prevention
Protecting yourself from the sun is an important step in decreasing your chances of developing skin cancer. The sun’s ultraviolet rays (UV rays) can cause damage to unprotected skin very quickly, and children are especially at risk for sunburns. Read our tips below to help keep you and your family safe while enjoying the outdoors.
Cover Up with Proper Clothing & Gear
Covering your skin with clothing is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself from UV rays. When possible, try to wear long sleeves and long pants to cover the most skin. Seek out clothing specifically designed for sun protection with a UV protection factor (UPF) listed on the label.
Protect your head, neck, and ears with a broad-brimmed hat. Skin cancers often appear on these sensitive areas that are left unprotected by baseball caps that only provide a front visor. Wearing sunglasses that clearly state they are UV-blocking can help protect the skin around your eyes, as well as prevent eye diseases linked to sun exposure such as macular degeneration.
Wear a Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
Broad spectrum sunscreens provide protection from UVA and UVB rays, both of which can cause skin damage. Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
Always read the sunscreen label and follow the directions for application. Apply sunscreen to every area of skin that will not be covered by clothing. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours, or more often if you are swimming or sweating during physical activity.
Protect Babies & Children from Sun Exposure
Babies under 6 months of age should not be exposed to direct sunlight. Protect babies by keeping them in the shade under an umbrella or other covering and dressing them in hats and long sleeves.
After 6 months of age, sunscreen can be used on skin that is not covered by clothing. Children can burn easily, so parents should take extra care to reapply sunscreen often and limit their time in the sun. Parents should also discuss with their children why sun safety is important, and help establish the habit of always applying sunscreen before going outdoors.
Always Avoid Tanning Beds
Finally, you should never use a tanning bed or sun lamp to get a tan. These lamps deliver concentrated doses of UV rays that have been linked to melanoma, especially in young people.