Back-To-School Shopping? Don’t Forget the Sunscreen

The End of Summer Doesn’t Mean the End of Sun Protection

New York, NY (August 22, 2011) – During a typical school day, it’s not unusual for children to receive a significant amount of sun exposure. That’s unfortunate, because just one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, later in life. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are also associated with 90 percent of all nonmelanoma skin cancers.

“The time to learn about and start practicing sun protection is in youth, when safety behaviors can be established for a lifetime,” said Perry Robins, MD, President, The Skin Cancer Foundation. “Parents and caregivers need to help children develop good sun protection habits, the best method of skin cancer prevention.”

What can parents do to protect children from the sun’s rays? The Skin Cancer Foundation offers the following recommendations for keeping children sun-safe during the school year.

  • UV rays are most intense from 10 AM to 4 PM, and this is when students are usually outside for recess, phys ed class and afterschool programs. Check with the school to see if there are adequate places for students to seek shade during outdoor activities.
  • Clothing is the single most effective form of sun protection, so send kids to school in densely woven and bright- or dark-colored fabrics, which offer the best defense. The more skin you cover, the better, so choose long sleeves and long pants whenever possible.
  • Send children to school with a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses, to protect their face, neck and eyes. If they won’t wear a wide-brimmed hat, a baseball cap is better than nothing.
  • Parents should apply an SPF 15+ sunscreen to their children’s skin every morning, at least 30 minutes before going outside. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours outdoors and right after swimming or sweating heavily.
  • Older children should learn to apply sunscreen themselves, and make it a routine habit. For extended time outdoors, or if parents suspect their children are not using enough sunscreen, or not reapplying often enough, an SPF 30+ sunscreen should be used instead.
  • One ounce of sunscreen (about the size of a golf ball) should be applied to the entire body. Remind children to cover those easy to miss spots, such as the back of ears and neck, as well as the tops of the feet and hands.

Keep in mind that children with fair skin, blond or red hair and blue or green eyes are at the highest risk of sunburn. But darker-skinned children also need sun protection. With proper guidance, children can learn to protect themselves and enjoy outdoor fun without sacrificing the health of their skin. More detailed suggestions and recommendations are available in the 2011 Skin Cancer Foundation Journal’s article, “The Glaring Need for Sun Safety in Schools” available at

About The Skin Cancer Foundation

The Skin Cancer Foundation is the only global organization solely devoted to the prevention, early detection and treatment of skin cancer. The mission of the Foundation is to decrease the incidence of skin cancer through public and professional education and research. For more information, visit