The use of sunscreen is huge in my household. I was taught at a young age the dangers of the sun and it’s carried over onto my children. With summer quickly approaching it is always good to remind our children the importance of protecting their skin. Sunlight contains three types of ultraviolet rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC: These rays cause tanning, burning and other skin damage.
- UVA rays cause skin aging and wrinkling and contribute to skin cancer, such as melanoma. Because UVA rays pass effortlessly through the ozone layer (the protective layer of atmosphere, or shield, surrounding the earth), they make up the majority of our sun exposure.
Beware of tanning beds because they use UVA rays as well as UVB rays. A UVA tan does not help protect the skin from further sun damage; it just produces color and a false sense of safety.
- UVB rays are also dangerous, causing sunburns, cataracts (clouding of the eye lens), and effects on the immune system. They also contribute to skin cancer. Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, is thought to be associated with severe UVB sunburns that occur before the age of 20. Most UVB rays are absorbed by the ozone layer, but enough of these rays pass through to cause serious damage.
- UVC rays are the most dangerous, but fortunately, these rays are blocked by the ozone layer and don’t reach the earth.
Every child needs sun protection. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that all kids — regardless of their skin tone — wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Although dark skin has more protective melanin and tans more easily than it burns, tanning is a sign of sun damage. Dark-skinned kids also can get painful sunburns.
Sunscreen isn’t the only way you can protect yourself, keeping sunglasses on, a hat or light clothing that is not transparent works great too!