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Don’t let the sun go down on me

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

Children cannon ball into the pool as the lazy days of summer approach.  For many, the season equals fun in the sun, while others, such as Rhonda Sparks, focus on protecting kids from the sun’s damaging rays*.

 Sparks lost her 32-year-old husband, Darren, to skin cancer just three days after the 9-11 tragedy.  Since then she has launched UVSkinz, a Sonora, California-based company, producing swimshirts and apparel that block out 98% of the sun’s harmful rays and carry a UPF rating of 50+. 

“The southern hemisphere is a good ten years ahead of us in sun protection awareness, “notes Sparks.  “I want parents here to know what I’ve had to learn the hard way.  And to prevent as many sunburns as possible. “

UV Skinz

 Boyz in their Skinz

Sparks sent a couple of samples for my fair-haired Norwegian teenagers to try.  Increasingly weary of the moles multiplying on my son’s back faster than a tic-tac-toe game, I was thrilled when I opened the package.  My 12-year-old swim team and water polo player was less than enthusiast about the chocolate brown short sleeve swim shirt and would not consider wearing the long sleeve blue tie-dye shirt.  My 16-year-old life guard and swim team daughter said no way to the pink tie-dye shirt or any other tasteful catalog items.

 What’s a frustrated, skin cancer prone mother to do with these responses?  Load up on the Coopertone SPF 50 sunscreen and make those yearly dermotology appointments.  What do you do to keep your kids or yourself protected from sun damage? 

*Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, affecting more than one million people each year.  And considering that just one blistering sunburn as a child can more than double the risk of developing skin cancer as an adult makes early awareness and prevention critical.  The good news is that nearly all skin cancer is 100% preventable if caught early!  Protecting your skin during the first 18 years of life can reduce your risk for diagnosis.  Wearing UV protective clothing is an important step in preventing sunburns, premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.

Top 10 Sun Safety Tips provided by UV Skinz

1. Seek the shade, especially during the sun’s peak hours (10:00am-2:00pm)

2. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.

3. Cover up with clothing,especially a broad brimmed hat and UN-blocking sunglasses.

4. Avoid tanning parlors and artificial tanning devices.

5. Keep newborns out of the sun.

6. Teach children good sun-protective practices.

7. Examine your skin from head-to-toe once every month.

8. Have a professional examination annually.

9. Do not burn!  One blistering sunburn doubles your risk for skin cancer.

10. Wear UV protective clothing.