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Melanoma/Skin Cancer Health Center

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'Sun Safety' Counseling Pays Off for Kids and Teens

U.S. Guidelines Say Kids Can Avoid Skin Cancer if Counseled by Doctors on Limiting Sun Exposure

Recommendations Don't Go Far Enough?

Many dermatologists -- at odds with some of the panel's recommendations -- feel that more is better when it comes to counseling people on the risks of sun exposure.

Doris Day, MD, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, says that counseling on sun-protection strategies benefits people of all ages -- from the very young to the senior crowd.

"At any age, counseling is critical," she says. "It makes a big difference and we need to do better and better at every age."

Practice Sun Safety

New York City dermatologist Michele Pauporte, MD, says the U.S. needs a national skin cancer prevention program that is modeled after successful programs in other countries like Australia.

"We know that UV exposure in early years significantly increases the risk of skin cancer especially in certain populations such as fair skinned individuals," she says via email.

"Like smoking, the damages of ultraviolet rays are sometimes only seen years later when a cancer arises so the counseling has to begin at young ages and include families and schools," Pauporte says. "It is critical that the message about the dangers of ultraviolet rays from the sun and tanning beds be heard and heeded."

The American Academy of Dermatology has these tips for sun safety:

  • Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more on all exposed skin. Broad-spectrum protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Wear protective clothing such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.
  • Avoid the sun when its rays are strongest. This is typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Avoid indoor tanning beds.

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