When Back-to-School Shopping, Remember the Sun Protection

Summer may be coming to an end, but that doesn't mean you're free to forget about sun protection. When shopping for back-to-school supplies, make sure to add a broad-brimmed hat, UV-blocking sunglasses, and sunscreen to your shopping cart. Children in elementary school usually have outdoor recess between 10 AM and 2 PM, a time when the sun is especially intense. Just one severe sunburn in childhood doubles the chances of developing melanoma later in life. So while preparing for school, make sure to remind your children about the importance of seeking the shade and applying sunscreen before going outdoors.

"The sun's ultraviolet rays don't go away when the summer is over," said Perry Robins, MD, President of The Skin Cancer Foundation." Children spend a great deal of time outdoors throughout the school year – walking to and from school, and during recess, after-school sports and field trips. We encourage children to develop a year-round sun protection regimen to lower their risk of developing skin cancer later in life."

Although sunscreen is an essential part of a complete sun protection program, you may need to check with administrators before sending your children to school with a bottle. Many schools prohibit students from bringing in sunscreen and some require a doctor's note. Others not only allow sunscreen but may provide it for student use. To ensure your child can take advantage of available sun safety measures, download The Skin Cancer Foundation’s sun protection form and have your child’s doctor sign it.

No matter what the rules are at school, it is important to remember that sun safety begins at home. The Skin Cancer Foundation offers these tips:

  • Dress children in sun-protective clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses that block 99 percent or more of ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
  • Apply broad-spectrum, SPF 15+ sunscreen to exposed skin every morning.
  • If permitted by your school, teach children to reapply sunscreen before going outdoors for physical education, recess or after-school sports. For sustained outdoor activity, kids should use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant SPF 30+ sunscreen.
  • Teach kids to look for shaded areas in which to play.
  • Protect yourself and lead by example.