Spray, and Play: A Guide to Skin Safety
By Dr. Tara Kompare, Pharm.D. - The Medicine Mom
Summer is all about trips to the beach and runny ice cream cones.
The bright skies and fun-filled days, however, often let us forget
the hidden, and deadly, dangers of the sun.
one of my husband's best friends was diagnosed with a deadly form
of skin cancer, I realized how precious our skin actually was. And,
when you think about all the life-saving advice we offer our kids,
protecting their skin is probably not on the top of the list. For
instance, I have always reminded my oldest daughter to "Stop,
look, and listen" before crossing the street and to "Stop,
drop, and roll" if she should ever catch fire. But, the fact
is, our children are actually more likely to develop skin cancer
than to get hit by a car or catch on fire.
-One in five Americans will develop skin cancer.
-Your risk of developing skin cancer doubles if you have had five
or more sunburns.
-At least 90 percent of all skin cancers are due to excessive sun
help our children remember the importance of skin safety this summer,
I came up with the child-friendly phrase: "Stop, spray, and
play" to help remind our little ones to protect their skin:
Stop: Before going outside, stop.
Spray: Spray on some sunscreen* (the spray bottles are great for
little ones) and rub it in thoroughly and evenly.
Play: Have fun!
* It is best to apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes
prior to sun exposure. If you forget, don't sweat it. As long as
you remember to apply it, you are doing great.
making up catchy jingles to appease our children's quest for parental
silliness, you can also try the following skin-saving strategies:
on: Kids look adorable in hats. A wide-brimmed hat is best and so
is one that says, "My mommy rules!" Not only do they look
cool, hats help shade our children's eyes and protect their delicate
is our friend: Remember that sunscreen can save lives. When looking
for sunscreen products, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends
an SPF of 15 or higher. It should also provide both UVA and UVB
protection. Reapply a good amount (approximately a shot glass full)
at least every two hours and even more frequently with heavy perspiration
or when swimming.
is of the essence: The sun's rays are strongest between 10 a.m.
4 p.m so it is especially important to remember sunscreen during
in the shade. When possible, try to get your children to play in
the shade. I try to frequent parks with lots of shady trees. Umbrellas
are also great for the beach put please use caution! Last summer,
my run away umbrella had me sprinting in the sand and soaring into
the air to catch it before it pounded into a small child and her
mother. I have since mastered the art of umbrella anchoring.
the sun looks friendly enough, it is important to remember that
looks are often deceiving. So have a ball this summer and may you
and your family slip and slide your way to happiness. Just remind
your kids (and yourself) to stop and spray before they go and play.
(Parent Sanity Saver): For quick relief of minor sunburn, dip your
child in a cool bath and apply some zinc oxide ointment afterwards.
author is a doctor of pharmacy and mother of two amazing little
girls. Her monthly children's health column, "The Medicine
Mom," is a regular feature in several award-winning magazines
including Richmond Parents Monthly, Atlanta Parent, and Big Apple
Parent. You can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or
visit her website at www.themedicinemom.com.
She encourages reader feedback and questions.