Thursday, May 24, 2012

May 25: "Don't Fry Day"

Did you know that Friday, May 25th is "Don't Fry Day?"  This day was designated by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention to highlight sun safety.  By now, everyone knows that excessive sun exposure can lead to skin cancer.  This day is to highlight the things people can do to stay safe and protect themselves from excessive sun exposure.

Preventing excessive sun exposure in children is especially important.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has some great advice regarding sun safety for children.  This advice is especially important since even a "single dose of strong sunlight during childhood can lead to melanoma."  Generally speaking, a baby under 6 months of age should NOT be exposed to direct sunlight.  They should be kept in the shade or covered with a hat or other protective clothing.  Sunburn in a baby less than a year old should be treated as an emergency and a doctor should be consulted.

Peak sunlight occurs between 10AM and 4PM, this is when it is advised for people of all ages to minimize their exposure to direct sunlight.  The Environmental Protection Agency has a great website for people to look up the UV index in their area.  The higher the number, the quicker exposed skin is likely to burn.

If you must go out in the sun, it is advised that you wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and reapply at least every 2 hours.   In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced new rules regarding the labeling of sunscreen products.  The new rules help make it easier for consumers to select the right sunscreen product.  The Environmental Working Group also has a great database that consumers can type in the name of a specific product and it will indicate if the product contains ingredients that may cause "concern"for being a hormone disrupter or for causing cancer.

As I get older, I find myself "paranoid" about the sun.  I remember spending days growing up at the beach without sunscreen.  Sunscreen back then was thought of as a way to prevent sunburn.  No one thought about the long-term implications of sunburn or the increased risk of skin cancer that sunburn may cause.  I cringe at the thought of the numerous sunburns I received as a child.  Given all of this information, I try to be safer with my children.  I try to heed the advice by the many organizations mentioned above.  It is never too early to teach my children about sun safety and if I lead by example, I hope they will follow.

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