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Wear Sunscreen for Lifelong Benefits

Sun damage never goes away so protect kids from the start, expert says

FRIDAY, June 5 (HealthDay News) -- Most people, especially children, love to be out in the summer sun, but parents should remember that no tan is a good tan.

"Remember that if you form a tan, you will have ultraviolet radiation damage," Dr. Alfred Lane, a pediatrician and researcher at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, said in a news release from the northern California facility. "Unfortunately, the body really doesn't forget this damage. It accumulates from childhood through adolescence and adulthood, and this can lead to skin cancer."

Lane, who is also a professor of dermatology and pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine, offers tips to help protect young and old from sun damage:

  • Always use a waterproof sunscreen with at least a 30 SPF (sun protection factor) -- the higher, the better for protection from ultraviolet damage and skin cancer -- before going outside in the daylight.
  • Wear clothing with high SPF. Even then, don't forget to put sunscreen on all exposed skin.
  • The format of the sunscreen -- stick, lotion or spray -- doesn't matter as long as it is used. However, to avoid getting sunscreen in the eyes and mouth, a stick might be best to use around those areas.
  • Because sunscreens are not recommended for children younger than 6 months, dress infants in a hat, long sleeves and long pants and keep them in the shade whenever possible. Carefully applying a little sunscreen on their exposed face or hands should be fine.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about sun safety.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, news release, May 26, 2009

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