Dermatologists stress importance of proper sun care

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - At this point, in the middle of June, most people have probably already gone to the beach, pool or are probably planning to since the sun and out and the water is warm.

Dermatologists say their patients admit they put on sunscreen once a day and think it will protect them. The average person, regardless of skin type, needs to be applying sunscreen every hour to hour and a half.

There are different types of sunscreen to look at. The FDA requires sunscreens that say "water resistant" on the label to maintain the protection after 40 minutes of being in the water. Labels that read "very water resistant" have to maintain protection after 80 minutes.

But keep in mind that sweat, water, then towel-drying can remove the protective layer, so you still have to reapply.

Dermatologists also stress: sunscreen is ineffective for the first 20 minutes after you put it on. So put it on with bathing suits, because skin is already getting damaged when people wait until they are outside.

The FDA urges parents to teach kids young about the importance of wearing sunscreen and getting in the habit of taking measures to protect their skin that will keep their skin healthy through life.

The Waccamaw Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Center says if a child receives major burns twice in the same area, their risk of skin cancer later on in life is significantly increased. The DNA actually gets damaged. The Environmental Protection Agency agrees. It says most parents don't apply sunscreen to their children properly.

Sunscreen should be applied then reapplied to everywhere the sun touches areas every one to two hours, and more often if you're in the water or sweating.

With infants, it's a different case.  The FDA and local dermatologists say you should not put sunscreen on babies, and if they're under six months, keep them out of the sun. Their skin is much more sensitive and the exposure to chemicals may be greater, increasing the risk of side effects.

"I personally was diagnosed with skin cancer when I was 25, and it's not the scary type or anything like that - it's just a basal cell carcinoma- directly related to UV exposure," says  Shawn Hackett, who says he didn't wear sunscreen often as a child. "But it's a precursor. I've got to be on the watch now for the rest of my life. Whereas, if I paid a little more attention to it when I was younger, I wouldn't be in this same boat. "

The FDA says if you're taking an infant out, if you don't have a tent or can't use one here locally, use a small umbrella or use the canopy of a stroller.

Dermatologists here recommend nothing below an SPF 30, which protects skin at a 97 percent level.

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