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Sun Exposure
Teach Your Child About Sun Safety

Research by the Content Manager
There is no such thing as a healthy suntan - and it is important to their life-long health that children learn this at an early age. Because they spend more time outside than adults, most children rack up between 50 to 80 percent of their lifetime sun exposure before they turn 18. Too much sun can lead to serious health problems later, such as eye damage and melanoma, a life-threatening form of skin cancer.Take steps now to protect your child from sun exposure. Make sun safety a regular part of your routine, just like buckling safety belts in the car. Start with these important habits:

- Use sunscreen not just at the beach or pool, but also before everyday.
outdoor activities. Buy a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, but choose a higher SPF for children with fair skin and hair.
Apply it a half hour before your child goes out and reapply it every few hours, especially if she is sweating or swimming (even if the sunscreen is waterproof). Don't use sunscreen on a baby before 6 months of age. When you take a baby outside, try to stay in the shade.

- Avoid the strongest rays of the day, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

- Wear protective clothing, such as ultraviolet (UV)-blocking sunglasses,wide-brimmed hats, and long-sleeve shirts.

- Be a role model. Practice the habits that you want your children to develop and get them interested in protecting their own skin. Be aware that the rays of the sun are still dangerous on cool, cloudy days and on winter days. Also, certain medications, such as some antibiotics, can increase the skin's sensitivity to UV rays. Be sure to read the informational inserts carefully when your child starts a new medication. If your child does get too much sun, you can help ease the burn with a cool bath, wet compresses to the skin, pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and topical moisturizers. Use that experience as a lesson for the future, because even a few severe sunburns in childhood have been associated with the increased risk of skin cancer.

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