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American Cancer Society's parents guide to sunscreen

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Anonymous donor from Tucson, AZ

ItŸ??s important to shield your childrenŸ??s skin from the damaging effects of the sun. No matter what theyŸ??re doing, or what time of year it is, if theyŸ??re outside, they need to be protected.

Build safe sun habits into your familyŸ??s daily routine. Lead by example Ÿ?? children will respond better when they see you protecting your skin. Begin by teaching them the American Cancer SocietyŸ??s easy and fun "safe sun habits": Slip! Slop! Slap!??

Slip! Slop! Slap!??

With just a few basics, you can teach healthy habits to keep your children safe in the sun. Whenever theyŸ??re outdoors, remind them to:

Slip! on a shirt. Wear protective clothing when out in the sun.
Slop! on sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
Slap! on a hat that shades the face, neck, and ears.

Helpful hints:
# Wrap on sunglasses for total protection
# Plan outdoor activities to avoid the midday sun
# Keep an extra bottle of sunscreen in the car
# Pack sunscreen in your childŸ??s knapsack or gym bag

Sun Facts

* Research shows a link between sunburns in children and an increased risk of melanoma and skin cancer later in life.
* Protecting skin from the sun during childhood and adolescence is important in reducing cancer risk later in life.
* Ultraviolet (UV) rays reflect off water, sand, and snow. UV rays also reach below waterŸ??s surface.

Play in the Shade

The sunŸ??s rays are generally strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If your children are outdoors, be sure their skin is protected.

Teach your children the shadow rule. When outside, if your shadow is shorter than you are, then the sun is high in the sky, and the UV rays are intense.

Encourage your kids to avoid the sun during these times and play in the shade.

Cover Up with Hats and Shirts

Choose hats that shade your childŸ??s face, neck, and ears. Choose shirts and slacks made of tightly woven fabrics that you canŸ??t see through when held up to light.

Use Sunscreen Every Day

Apply sunscreen every day on skin that is not protected by clothing or a hat. Choose a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. And remember to reapply after swimming, sweating, or toweling dry.

Do not use sunscreens on babies younger than 6 months. Instead, use hats, clothing, and shading to protect small babies from the sun.

The Finishing Touch

Sunglasses protect eyes and the surrounding tender skin.

Avoid Tanning Booths

Tanning booths and sunlamps are not a safe alternative to natural sun. They use UV rays that can cause damage. Encourage your children to appreciate the beauty of their natural skin tone.