UV rays and sun exposure can cause cumulative skin damage over time; it is also linked to skin cancer. Therefore, it is never too early to start protecting your skin from sun damage and preventing skin cancer. It is important to begin teaching children at a young age about protecting themselves from sun exposure, as this will instill good habits. Parents can make it fun by teaching their children fun methods, such as looking to see if their shadow is shorter than them when they are outside. If it is, then that means it is the time of day when the sun’s rays are the strongest and they should try to find shade.
Of course, sunscreen is always an essential part of protecting your children from sun burn and skin damage. Key guidelines to remember when applying sunscreen on your children, as well as yourself, are to use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of thirty or higher, apply generously thirty minutes before going outside and continue to re-apply throughout the day. If you are using spray on sunscreen, it’s important to remember that it does need to be rubbed in, and to be careful not to inhale the sunscreen. New FDA regulations require sunscreen bottles to claim ‘water resistant’ rather than ‘waterproof’, as no sunscreens are fully water proof. The new bottles also inform people how often to re-apply the sunscreen. It’s important to choose broad spectrum sunscreens that protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
UVB rays affect the surface layers of the skin, which are the rays that cause sun burn. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and cause aging. Both types of UV rays lead to cumulative skin damage.
Cone Health Cancer Center educates children throughout the community about sun safety through the ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ program. This program teaches kindergarten age children to ‘slip’ on a dark colored shirt, as UV rays can penetrate light-colored or white shirts, ‘slop’ on some sunscreen, and ‘slap’ on a wide-brimmed hat before going out in the sun.
Cone Health Cancer Center is now offering the program to schools throughout Rockingham, Alamance and Randolph County.
Christine Brannock is the oncology outreach manager at Cone Health Cancer Center. Christine earned a Bachelor of Science in public health education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2001, an associate degree in nursing at Guilford Technical Community College in 2004, and completing her Bachelor of Science in nursing degree from East Carolina University in May 2016. She has been an employee at Cone Health for 15 ½ years.