Work to develop care habits that reduce children’s exposure to ultraviolet radiation and protect their skin and eyes from sunburn and permanent damage. Overexposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun triggers the abnormal growth of skin cells and can cause sunburns, wrinkles, freckles, cataracts, and skin cancer.
Sun safe habits include:
- Staying inside during the sun’s peak hours–10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Taking cover under shade from trees or umbrellas.
- Covering up with clothing, sunglasses, and wide-brimmed hats.
- Using sunscreen or sunblock with an SPF of 15 or more.
Practice sun safety every day—even on cool or cloudy days. Seventy to 80% of the sun’s UV light shines right through clouds.
Tips on using sunscreen:
- Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before exposure to the sun and should be reapplied every 2 hours.
- Use waterproof sunscreen that cannot be washed off by water or sweat.
- Do not use sunscreen containing the insect repellent DEET, which reduces the SPF of sunscreen.
Though skin cancer usually develops in adults, it is believed that the condition is triggered by severe sunburns during childhood and accumulated lifetime exposure to the UV radiation. Most people receive up to 80% of their total lifetime exposure to the sun during their first 18 years of life. Just one severe sunburn during childhood can double the risk of developing skin cancer later in life. Childhood is the ideal time to instill lifelong healthy habits regarding sun safety.
The risk of developing skin cancer depends upon:
- How much time you spend in the sun.
- How easily your skin burns.
- Your family history of skin cancer.