Slathering on the highest SPF sunscreen may not be enough to protect your family from skin cancer. A study published in a recent issue of Nature found SPF 50 sunscreens may prevent sunburn and other immediate effects of sun exposure, but not radiation associated with melanoma. Even worse, the radiation from sun exposure causes skin damage for up to three hours after you’re out of the sun. But dermatologists aren’t suggesting you hide the family inside until it’s dark. For kids older than 6 months, follow these sun-smart tips:
• Limit sun exposure between 10 am and 4 pm when the sun is strongest.
• Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF between 15 and 50, and make kids wear it every day, rain or shine. Try a sunscreen stick rather than a lotion to get kids to better tolerate application on their faces.
• Slather on a generous amount of sunscreen (about an ounce per kid), and reapply it every two hours or after spending time in the water or excessive sweating.
• Wear a wide-brimmed hat, look for clothing that offers SPF protection and hang out in the shade.
• Skip spray-on sunscreens. The FDA is investigating their safety and the dangers of inhaling their ingredients (something a squirmy kid can easily do). If you’ve already stocked up on spray-ons, no need to toss—squirt it onto your own hand and use it like regular lotion.