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Although our weather is still hit and miss, we have had quite a few really sunny and even hot days in the recent weeks. In addition to the good weather, SCHOOL IS OUT!!! What does that mean? It means that kids are going to be playing outside, going to the pool, going to summer camp and enjoying the beautiful weather and their short freedom from school. It also means this is the time to talk sun protection! In the past, skin cancers only affected older adults, but doctors are now seeing melanoma in kids as young as their late teens to twenties!

As a child my dad used to brag about our golden tans and how well our Italian skin “bronzed.” We put on sunscreen…occasionally, and that was SPF 4! At the young age of 25 my dermatologist recommend taking a biopsy of a mole on my leg, and it was pre-cancerous. I couldn’t believe it! I now constantly educate my patients about the importance sunscreen, and here’s my recommendation (and the AAP’s recommendation):

  • Babies 6 months and under should be completely covered from the sun and should not use sunscreen.
  • The higher the SPF, the better but wear at least SPF 30 everyday, even when it is cloudy or you don’t think you’ll be outside much
  • Reapply sunscreen every 1.5-2 hours
  • Reapply after swimming or sweating
  • Broad spectrum sunscreens should cover both UVA and UVB sun rays
  • Sunscreens come in two forms:
    • Chemical sunscreens that absorb into your skin and protect from deep within. Anything with Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene, and Oxybenzone are chemical sunscreens and rub in easily.
    • Physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin and protect the sun from ever penetrating below the surface. Anything with Zinc Oxide or Titatium Dioxide, which are natural minerals, are physical sunscreens but are harder to rub in (think white 1970’s lifeguard noses). There is now something called invisible zinc which rubs in much better than the 1970’s version!
    • I prefer sunscreens that include BOTH.
    • Wear a hat and sunglasses when possible
    • Avoid the sun between 10am-4pm when the sun is at its strongest
    • My favorite brands for kids: Badger and California Baby. These are all-natural, great for sensitive skin (such as eczema) and provide excellent sun protection. They can usually be found at Target or Whole Foods.

So please don’t be like me…protect your child’s skin now before the damage is done. Trust me they will still be tan by the end of summer!


Karen Gentile, CPNP