Safer Summer with Sunscreen

Shelley Swenson,
UF/IFAS Wakulla/Franklin Family and Consumer Sciences Agent
850-926-3931

Summer tanning

University student foregoes lunch for some sun. Photo by Thomas Wright Source: ics.ifas.ufl.edu/pictures

When in our history did we convince ourselves that skin darkened by exposure to the sun was healthier looking than the pale skin that many of us have? How can we convince ourselves and others that even if we prefer the tanned look, we will pay the price for the exposure through future medical treatments and perhaps disfigurement? I put this challenge right up there with trying to convince children that if they have a diet based on fast foods and sweets, they will pay the price in later years? BUT, it is a challenge we must all undertake as we spread the word on taking sun shine exposure seriously.

According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 2 million American develop skin cancer every year. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that melanoma incidents have increased by almost two percent each year since 2000.

Let’s make sun safety as simple as possible. Follow these steps:

  1. Keep covered.
  2. Use sunscreen with a sun protective factor of 15 or greater with both UVA and UVB protection. Reapply every two hours and after swimming or heavy sweating. Some cosmetics now use some sunscreen compounds. Check that they contain at least SPR of 15 and also apply regular sunscreen.
  3. Wear a hat.
  4. Wear sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays.
  5. Keep babies younger than a year old out of the sun.
  6. Dress babies in lightweight clothing that covers their bodies, including hats.
  7. Find a place in the shade for them. Apply a little sunscreen to small areas, such as the face and back of the hands.

Just remember, there is no such thing as a healthy suntan.

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