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By Renata Block PA-C

Can you believe it’s already time to start school again? Did you know that many schools, from pre-K to 12th grade do not allow students to use sunscreen without written permission!?  Also wearing a hat requires a written permission slip from your dermatology provider.  Sheesh, harsh rules!  

How scary is this:  at least 5 sunburns during your youth can increase your lifetime risk of developing a melanoma by 80%!  A melanoma is the most deadliest type of skin cancer and can effect ANYONE at ANY AGE!  UV rays are out EVERYDAY, no matter what the weather and they are the most intense from 10AM-4PM, THE exact time when are kids are in school.  Sunburns are not the only thing to worry about either.  It is the ACCUMULATION of UV exposure during your lifetime that are known to increase your risk of developing a melanoma by 86% and nonmelanoma skin cancers by 90%!  YIKES!!!!

I am on a mission, my friends, fellow colleagues.  I am starting a new trend:  SPF (Sun Protection Factor) pumps and hats at all schools along with the education of the importance of sun protection.  Who’s with me?

What to do:  

1. TEACH your children the importance of Sun Protection early in their lives.  Make it part of their daily routine.  Brush teeth, wash face, put SPF on.  You can start with an SPF 15 or higher and apply one ounce to all of the skin 30 minutes prior to heading outdoors.  My favorite type is an all natural/physicial that include zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.  Safe for children and the environment.  Don’t forget to reapply every 2 hours for extended time spent outdoors.

2. Make sure you always seek out shade during your outdoor activities which can be provided by many things such as trees, awnings, roof structures and gazebos.  

3. The single best sun protection is clothing!  Yes, this can provide an SPF of 3-5.  Long sleeves and long pants are very helpful while you are outdoors.  Don’t forget your wide-brimmed hat.  

4. Don’t forget to protect your peeps and wear UV-blocking sunglasses & UV protected glasses. Accumulative UV exposure can lead to cataracts as well as skin cancer.

5. Get a “sun protection” form signed to give your child approval to practice sun safety at:

Lastly, do not worry about getting enough vitamin D.  The only way you cannot is if you are living in a cave or having your entire body covered ALL THE TIME by clothing or shade.  Which is virtually impossible!!!

So go out there, literally, and enjoy while practicing back to school sun safety!

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