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As you run down your checklist before taking the kids to the pool this summer, be sure to include sun safety preparation as one of the top items, because while a little sunburn or a nice tan may not seem like a big deal to you, it could have a lasting impact on your child’s health.
“Cumulative sun exposure leads to wrinkles, age spots, and increases the risk of skin cancer,” says Kelly Bennett, MD, a TriHealth pediatrician with Group Health-Mason. “Damage to your child's skin now could have long-lasting impacts on their health, which is why it is important to be sure they are protected.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, skin cancer is not only the most common form of cancer in the U.S., the number of new cases rises significantly every year.
The two types of sun rays that can injure the skin are ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA affects the deep layers of skin. UVB damages the outermost layers of the skin and causes sunburn.
“Protect your child from sun exposure by having them wear long sleeve swimsuits in addition to a hat and sunscreen. Use UV-blocking sunglasses when possible,” says Dr. Bennett.
The Food and Drug Administration offers the following guidelines on selecting sunscreen:
“Sunscreen alone doesn’t give full protection, so you should limit sun exposure for your children during peak sunlight hours and look for options to protect them from the sun such as clothing and a shady spot if available,” says Dr. Bennett. She also offers these tips when applying sunscreen: