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FAQs

New FDA guidelines for sunscreen and sunscreen labels effective June 18, 2012: What do I need to know?

  1. In order for a sunscreen label to say "broad spectrum" it must be FDA-certified to provide a significant amount of UVA protection.
  2. Sunscreen labels can no longer say "waterproof," "sweatproof," "instant protection," "all day protection," or "sunblock."
  3. Sunscreens can be labeled as water resistant if the label specifies whether the product is water resistant for 40 or 80 minutes.

Why should we be concerned about ultraviolet (UV) radiation?
UV radiation is recognized by Congress, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies as a know human carcinogen. The sun’s UV radiation presents both a recreational and occupational hazard to families when they are outdoors so steps should be taken to prevent overexposure. Educating ourselves about sun safety and minimizing exposure to UV radiation may help prevent skin damage and skin cancer in the future.

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How common are sunscreen allergies?
Fortunately, allergic reaction to sunscreen is very uncommon and, if one does occur, it is generally a minor reversible skin rash. Less than 1% of people have some reaction to some ingredients in certain sunscreens. Hypoallergenic and fragrance-free products are good choices especially for people already known to have skin allergies. Before a parent sends a sunscreen to school with his or her child, ask them to perform a test by dabbing a small amount on the back of the child's hand. If a rash or itching develops, a doctor or pharmacist can help recommend products that might be better for the child's skin.

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Based on the ethnicity, is sun safety policy necessary?
Yes, it is important, regardless of skin tone. Studies by the American Cancer Society indicate that melanoma is on the rise nationwide. Although the risk is greater for people with light skin, exposure to UV rays is a health risk for everyone.

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What does SPF mean?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. Something that many people are unaware of is that SPF is a greater predictor of the length of protection rather than the strength of protection. To find out more visit the Sunscreen section.

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Do I need to reapply water-resistant sunscreen after my child goes swimming?
Yes. It is very important to reapply sunscreen, even water-resistance sunscreens, after your child gets wet. Whether your child gets wet in a pool, running through the sprinkler or sweating a lot at soccer practice reapply sunscreen often.

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Why does my child get sunburned even when it's cloudy?
Clouds only block 20-40% of damaging UV rays. That means that as much as 80% of UV rays may reach your children's skin even on cloudy days. Check the UV Index for a reading of the day’s UV forecast to help you plan for a sun safe day. The UV Index can be found in your local newspaper or you can check your UV index online.

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Is getting a "base tan" before going on vacation a good idea?
There is no such thing as a healthy tan. A suntan is skin damage. The body produces melanin, the pigment in your skin, to protect itself from the damaging UV rays. Skin damage is happening while your skin tans and this damage can lead to skin cancer.

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Why do people get melanoma in areas of their body that are not exposed to the sun?
The skin is the largest organ in our bodies. Skin cancer can attack the melanocyte cells (moles) throughout this organ and manifest themselves anywhere.

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How long will sunscreen last after I purchase it?
Unless the expiration date says otherwise, susncreen will last for about two years. So, when you buy your sunscreen write the date on the bottle with a permenant marker and dispose of it after two years.

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At what age can I start using sunscreen on my child?
Do not use sunscreen on your child unless they are at least six months old. Before six months of age, keep your child out of the sun as much as possible and use shade, cover-up clothing, hats and sunglasses any other time. Remember that for kids of all ages, sunscreen should be used in conjuction with the use of shade, cover-up clothing, hats and sunglasses.

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(2006, March 9). Detailed guide: Skin Cancer - Melanoma. What are the key statistics about melanoma? American Cancer Society

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