Kids Health: Sunscreen options, plus important do's and don'ts

WILMINGTON, Delaware (WPVI) -- Outdoors is THE place to be in summer.

Surf, sand, and sun are the simple joys.

We all need sun protection, but it's especially important for kids, to prevent skin damage and skin cancer down the line.

These days, most parents know sunscreen is essential for a day at the beach.

However, Dr. Kate Cronan of Nemours DuPont Hospital says sunscreen's not just for vacation.

"Parents should use sunscreen on their kids every single day they're outdoors, even if it's a cloudy day," says Dr. Cronan.

She says many parents miss the mark on when to apply it.

"Probably about 15 minutes in," said mom Hilary Shawn on a visit to Ocean City, N.J.

No - Dr. Cronan says sunscreen should go on 30 minutes BEFORE sun exposure, to let the skin absorb it, and so it's less likely to wash off.

She says too many families also don't use enough or cover everything exposed to the sun.

"We recommend putting about a little medicine cup on," she notes.

And sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours - sooner if you've been swimming or sweating heavily.

Be sure the sunscreen offers "Broad Spectrum Protection" against both UVA and UVB rays.

UVA ages skin, UVB causes burns - but both play a role in causing skin cancer.

Melanoma rates among children, teens, and young adults have skyrocketed in recent decades.

Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more.

As for ingredients, opinions vary on whether minerals like zinc oxide, or chemicals like avobenzone are the safest or most effective.

Dr. Cronan says till the science is in -

"The best sunscreen is the one that you're going to use," she says.

And we found a mom who agrees.

"She (her daughter) has gotten used to it because mommy has done it from the very first time she's gone out in the sun," notes Kimberly Cocchi of Somerdale, New Jersey,

"I think everyone should wear sunscreen," she says, and adds, "When I was younger, I wish I wore it more."
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