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Special Considerations for Children

Recent medical research shows that it is important to protect children and young adults from overexposure to UV radiation.

For babies under 6 months, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding sun exposure, and dressing infants in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and brimmed hats.

Parents can also apply sunscreen (SPF 30+) to small areas like the face and back of the hands if protective clothing and shade are not available.

Download the Action Steps
(PDF) (2pp, 79KB, About PDF).
EPA Related Links
US Environmental Protection Agency
American Melanoma Foundations
Sun Smart
National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention
National Associations
UVAwareness.org and the following links to non-EPA sites do not imply any official EPA endorsement. EPA does not accept any responsibility for the opinions, ideas, data or products presented on www.uvawareness.org or at those above linked locations, or guarantee the validity of the information provided. Please see EPA's disclaimer for more information.


What Does SPF Mean?

SPF stands for "Sun Protection Factor"Ě. The SPF number on a sunscreen's label is a guide to the product's level of sunbun protection.

SPF refers to the ability of a sunscreen to block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which cause sunburns, but not UVA rays, which are more closely linked to deeper skin damage. Both UVA and UVB contribute to the risk of skin cancer.

The SPF rating is a measure of the time it would take you to sunburn if you were not wearing sunscreen as opposed to the time it would take with sunscreen on.

Basically, the SPF number indicates how much longer you can be exposed to the sun before getting a sunburn with a sunscreen compared to without a sunscreen. For example, it would take you 15 times longer to burn with an SPF-15 sunscreen than without.

Things you should know

For protection against UVB and UVA rays, look for the words "broad spectrum" on the product label.
An SPF-30 product does NOT provide twice the protection of an SPF-15 sunscreen. As a general rule:
SPF-15 = approximately 93% protection against the sun's burning rays
SPF-30 = approximately 97% protection against the sun's burning rays
SPF-60 = approximately 98% protection against the sun's burning rays

Which SPF is right for you?

The EPA recommends using a product with a minimum SPF of 30. That being said, your choice of SPF also depends on your skin type, your local UV index and the length of time you plan to spend in the sun. The chart below may help.

If this describes you
or members of your family
and the following conditions apply Choose

- Very fair skin
- Blue/hazel eyes
- Blond/red hair

Always burn, never tan

- Fair skin, blue eyes

Burn easily, tan poorly

- UV index: High/extreme (6-11)
- Extensive outdoor exposure (pool, golf, beach, ski, etc.)
- Outdoors from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

SPF 50+

- Darker white skin
Sometimes burn, usually tan

Light brown skin
Burn minimally, tan easily

- UV index: Moderate (3-5)
- Limited outdoor exposure

SPF 30+

- Brown skin
Rarely burn, tan darkly easily

- Dark brown or black skin

Never burn, always tan darkly

- UV index: Low (0-2)

SPF 15+

Whatever product you choose, experts recommend using a water-resistant sunscreen applied liberally one half hour before going outdoors. Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours or after swimming, drying off, or sweating.

The best way make sure you are protected is to reapply sunscreen often, you just can't put it on in the morning and forget about it because after a few hours it's gone.

Note: To ensure sunburn protection against both UVA and UVB rays, look for the words "broad spectrum" on the product label.

The Burning Facts

Although the sun is necessary for life, too much sun exposure can lead to adverse health effects, including skin cancer.

More than one million people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, making skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

By themselves, sunscreens might not be effective in pro­ tecting you from the most dangerous forms of skin can- cer. However, sunscreen use is an important part of your sun protection program. Used properly, certain sunscreens help protect human skin from some of the sun's damaging UV radiation.

But according to recent surveys, most people are confused about the proper use and effectiveness of sunscreens. The purpose of this website is to educate you about sunscreens and other important sun protection measures so that you can protect yourself from the sun's damaging rays.



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