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Keep kids sun-safe at summer camp

Extended time outdoors increases risk for skin cancer

June 15, 2010 (New York, NY) – Without proper sun protection, a fun summer at camp can lead to painful sunburns, premature skin aging and skin cancer. Just one severe sunburn in childhood doubles the chances of developing melanoma later in life.    Children with fair skin, blond or red hair and blue or green eyes are at the highest risk of sunburn. But darker-skinned children also need sun protection.

sunscreen“Fewer than one-third of children between the ages of eight and eleven wear sunscreen,” said Perry Robins, MD, President of The Skin Cancer Foundation. “Parents need to teach children from an early age how to be sun-safe and reduce their risk of skin cancer.”

There are many things parents can do to keep their kids sun-safe at summer camp. You may want to ask:

Are the camp counselors trained in sun safety?

Do counselors remind children to apply sunscreen regularly?

Are outdoor activities scheduled in the early morning or late afternoon? Ultraviolet (UV) rays are most intense from 10 AM to 4 PM.

Are there adequate places for campers to seek shade during outdoor activities?

Parents should also prepare their children before they leave for camp with a sun safety lesson, including how to use sunscreen. An SPF 15+ sunscreen (water resistant formulas are especially good) should be used regularly.

Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to all exposed areas, 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every 2 hours and right after swimming or sweating heavily. Remind children to cover those easy to miss spots, such as the back of ears and neck, as well as the tops of feet and hands.

If parents suspect their children are not using enough sunscreen, or not reapplying often enough, an SPF 30 sunscreen should be used instead.

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