Sun protection for children

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:49 pm
It's important to protect your children from sun overexposure. Not only can it cause painful burns now, but UV radiation that's received during childhood can show up later as wrinkles, premature aging, cataracts, or even skin cancer. Dermatologists estimate that 80 percent of the average person's sun damage occurs by age 18. Blistering sunburns early in life can increase one's risk of skin cancer. While avoiding the outdoors isn't practical, you can teach your child how to protect his or her skin. For children six months and older, choose a good sunblock with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher and a UVA-block such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or avobenzone (av-oh-BEHN-zone). Every morning, make it a ritual to put on your sunscreens together, until the child gets into the habit. Whenever possible, have your child wear long sleeves, long pants, and a hat. UV-blocking sunglasses should be worn on a regular basis. Also, encourage play in shady areas. If trees are scarce, consider putting up a special tent or awning where the kids can have fun. Try to limit your child's exposure during the peak hours of UV radiation between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. At such times, have the children take a break inside for TV or games.
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