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Sun safety

Dr. Marsho’s baby wears a hat and sunglasses

Riddle: What’s black and white and red all over? (leave your answers in the comments)

You wouldn’t guess it given frost advisories and hail, but summer is here! May is Melanoma Awareness Month and with the sun shining and temperatures rising, it’s time to think about sun safety.

For infants especially, the best sun protection is avoidance. Covering sun exposed areas can go a long way to protect their delicate skin. It’s a good idea to use long sleeves or hats and keep infants in shaded areas. If sun exposure is unavoidable, it is OK to use a minimal amount of sunscreen to small sun exposed areas.

For older children and adolescents, some of the same guidelines hold true. Try to avoid sun exposure during the midday hours when the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can be most damaging. Using a hat and sunglasses are both very important. Look for sunglasses that provide the most protection against both UVA and UVB rays (97-100 percent). Using sunscreen is important on both sunny and cloudy days. Make sure to use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher and reapply sunscreen about every two hours. Water, sand, and concrete can reflect the sun’s rays, so take extra caution.

Finally, some words of warning on indoor tanning. Tanning salons are dangerous for everyone, especially adolescents. While a sunburn can provide an immediate pain, the real harmful effects can appear later in life. The most dangerous form of skin cancer, melanoma, is the second most common cancer in young women and third most common in young men and the incidence has been increasing for the last 30 years. Those at highest risk for skin trouble include children with light skin and eyes, who freckle or sunburn easily, or have a family history of melanoma. Tanning salons can provide UV radiation 10-15 times that of the midday sun. Studies have shown UV radiation from indoor tanning beds increases a person’s risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent.

This video, Dear 16-year-old Me, warns of the dangers of sun exposure early in life. Check it out!

For more information go to healthychildren.org

Dr. Marsho is a pediatrician with Affinity Medical Group practicing at the Deerwood clinic in Neenah. Dr. Marsho would like to thank his mom for always bugging him about putting sunscreen on his ears and nose!

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