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Teach children to be sun safe this summer


Last updated 6/19/2008 at Noon

NEW YORK, NY — Sports and other outdoor activities are daily events for children. If children are not properly protected, the time they spend outdoors can lead to painful sunburns, premature aging and skin cancer.

“Just one blistering sunburn in childhood can double the risk of developing melanoma later in life,” said Perry Robins, MD, president of The Skin Cancer Foundation. “That risk can be vastly reduced by following some simple sun safety guidelines.”

To keep children protected from the harmful rays, the Foundation recommends training children in sun safety. Kids should be well versed about the dangers of the sun and how to protect against them. Here are a few lessons to review for summer:

• Instruct children how to apply sunscreen before going outside. An SPF 15+ sunscreen (water-resistant formulas are especially good) needs to be used regularly. Teach children to apply one ounce (two tablespoons) of sunscreen to all exposed areas, 30 minutes before outdoor activities, and reapply every two hours and right after swimming or heavy sweating. Remember to tell kids not to forget those easy-to-miss spots, such as the back of ears and neck as well as the tops of feet and hands.

• Cover up with sun-protective clothing. Ideal sun-safe clothing includes long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and a wide-brimmed hat. But since kids typically wear only t-shirts and shorts, they should take some extra precautions:

1. Wear t-shirts with a dense weave in dark or bright colors.

2. Wear at least a baseball cap.

3. Wear UV-blocking sunglasses.

4. Wear long shorts.

5. Apply an SPF 15+ sunscreen to all exposed areas.

• Encourage kids to seek the shade when outdoors. While large shade trees provide some protection, tell children to find a pavilion where they can seek shade during outdoor activities. Ideally, most activities should be scheduled for early morning or late afternoon since UV is most intense from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

With proper guidance, children can learn to protect themselves and enjoy summer fun without sacrificing the health of their skin. For additional information, visit


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