Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Scoop on Sun

Roughly 20 percent of all Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Having blistering sunburns as a child can double one’s risk of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.  To protect your skin from UV rays and lower your risk of skin cancer, avoid spending time outside between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when UV rays are at their strongest. A good rule of thumb: If your shadow is shorter than you are, you should seek shade. Big floppy hats can protect children and adults alike!  Remember sunglasses because UV rays are also bad for your eyes.  Consider sun-protective clothing, especially for infants and young children. Another option: Use a wash-in treatment that ups regular clothing's sun-protection ability.  And, of course, slather on sunscreen.  If only this were was easy as it sounds! 

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Sunscreen:
What SPF should my child be using?
At least 30 and if your child is fair and burns easily, use an SPF of 50.  SPF (which stands for sun protection factor) measures how many times a product increases your skin's natural sun barrier. So if you burn in ten minutes, an SPF of 15 should give you 150 minutes without turning red. There's probably no need to go any higher than 50. In fact, the FDA has proposed a rule that would prohibit manufacturers from claiming anything above "50+," because there's not enough evidence to prove that higher numbers would offer greater protection. You also need to look for "broad spectrum" on the label. That means that the product not only guards against burning UVB rays, but also UVA rays, which penetrate deeper into the skin and cause skin cancer as well as wrinkling and premature aging.

Is it safe to use sunscreen on my infant?
It is, though doctors suggest that infants younger than 6 months get no sun at all. If you're outside with your baby, seek shade as much as possible, dress your child in a hat and UV- protective clothing, and use sunscreen on any exposed body parts. Babies have less melanin in their skin than older children and adults -- plus their skin is thinner, making them more apt to burn.

Do sprays work as well as lotions do?
Yes, if you use them properly. But most people tend to put on far too little spray sunscreen, especially on windy days when it tends to blow away. Apply liberally and rub well so that the droplets disperse and cover the skin.

Do I need to use sunscreen if my child tans easily?
Yes.  A tan is a sign that the skin is being damaged by UV light.  Even though we tend to think that a tan makes you look healthy, there's nothing healthy about it. People who have a dark complexion are less likely to get skin cancer than those with fair skin, but they're still susceptible to sun damage like wrinkles, so they need sunscreen anyway.

Does my child need to swear sunscreen during a long car ride?
Yes. UVA is a long wavelength of light, which means it's able to pass through car windows.

Is it okay if I use my unfinished bottle from last summer?
As long as it has not expired, it should be okay to use it. But if you left your sunscreen in direct heat for a couple of days -- for example, in a hot car or on a sunny windowsill -- it may have lost some of its efficacy. In that case, especially if there is no expiration date listed on the container, it might be best to play it safe and just start fresh with a new bottle.

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