Monday, May 14th, 2012
Now that it feels like spring is really here (today’s yucky weather in NYC aside), it’s time to start talking about sun safety. In our June issue, we have a whole feature where we answer your most common sunscreen questions.
It’s important to remember that another smart way to protect our skin is to seek shade. Mona Gohara, M.D., a dermatologist, mom of two, and member of the Women’s Dermatologic Society, participated in a cool program last week called Play Safe in the Sun. She and her fellow WDS members “sunproofed” the Grace Church School in New York City by creating a safe, sun-shielded, shaded area in the playground, by integrating sun safety into the school’s curriculum, and by doing free skin checks on school families. (That’s Dr. Gohara in yellow, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the shade structure at the school, with all the hat-wearing students who’d be benefiting from it!) She shares these tips to help keep your family safe in the sun:
1. Go Green Plant little trees with your family to add more shade in your backyard, this will help Mother Earth and your skin all in one shot! For those living in a city, choose a different tree to play under with each visit to a park, then go home and learn about it- a great way to promote environmental awareness! Remember, children who play in the sun between 10 am and 4 pm are at a higher risk for skin cancer later in life.
2. Special Thoughts for Special Spots Use a SPF stick for your child’s eyelids (to avoid product running into the eyes) and lips. In general, remember to reapply a broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher every 2 hours when outdoors or after excessive swimming/sweating.
3. Don’t Slip During That Trip Ultraviolet light easily shines through car windows (and home windows, for that matter!) so make sure to place UV-blocking shields on windows your children are exposed to. This will help them avoid passive, intense sun exposure that can lead to skin cancer later in life.
4. Channel Your Inner Politician: After teaching your older kids about the dangers of indoor tanning, think about ways to contact local politicians, or sign petitions to restrict tanning bed use. As of January 2012, kids under the age of 18 have been banned from indoor tanning in California, and New York State is requiring in-person signed parental consent for would-be tanners between the ages of 14 and 18. Raise public awareness together and save lives.
And here are more important tips from her fellow WDS members:
“Grandmothers can set a good example by providing cute sun protective hats and making a ritual of applying sunscreen before going out.” —Janet Hickman, M.D., WDS President, retired Virginia dermatologist, mother of three sons and two young granddaughters
“Chemical-free sunscreens are great to use on children’s faces to prevent burning eyes that often occur with more traditional chemical sunscreens.” —Lauren C. Hughey, M.D., associate professor of dermatology, University of Alabama at Birmingham and mother of three young children
“When protecting your family, be sure to protect with sunscreen these frequently missed spots: ears, behind the neck, tops of hands, wrists, feet and toes.” —Latanya Benjamin, M.D., F.A.A.D., F.A.A.P., clinical assistant professor of dermatology and pediatrics, interim director and service chief, pediatric dermatology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital
“Once a month go on an outing and buy a different type of SPF…when you have that family outdoors activity you can share your favorite picks. SPF comes in liquid, spray, solid stick, lip balm and makeup so there is something for every member of the family.”—Wendy E. Roberts, M.D., F.A.A.D., Rancho Mirage, California, generational and cosmetic dermatologist
WDS holds free skin cancer screenings all over the country; click here to see if there’s one near you.