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How to enjoy the sun safely

| Sunday, June 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Beginning this year, you'll see several changes to sunscreen labels. These changes, required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will provide more information about what a sunscreen can do.

Here are ways to protect yourself from the sun from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and the American Academy of Dermatology:

• Apply sunscreen and lip balm specifically made for children with an SPF of at least 30. The label should say “broad spectrum coverage,” which gives protection from UVA and UVB rays. While swimming, children should wear water-resistant sunscreen.

• Lather generously. Apply 1 ounce (2 table-spoons) of sunscreen to the entire body, 30 minutes prior to going outdoors; reapply every 2 hours or after excessive sweating or swimming.

• Wear a wide-brim hat and sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection. Sun-protective clothing with a UPF rating of 50 or higher provides protection, as well.

• Even when precautions are followed, minimize the amount of sun exposure during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Look for areas to stay in the shade. (Avoid direct exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.)

• Keep newborns out of the sun. From zero to 6 months, sunscreen is not recommended, because a baby's skin is too sensitive. Instead, keep your baby out of direct sunlight as much as possible by using proper clothing, umbrellas, canopies and trees.

• It's not just for sunny days. Remember that water, sand and snow reflect the sun. Even on an overcast day, clouds allow 70 percent to 80 percent UV penetration.

• For a label to claim that a sunscreen can help prevent skin cancer and sunburn, it will have to pass two tests. The first is the broad-spectrum test. This test shows whether a sunscreen can protect your skin from the sun's UVA and UVB rays. Both rays can cause skin cancer. The second is the sun protection factor (SPF) test. This test shows how well a sunscreen protects you from sunburn. The product must have an SPF of 15 or higher. If the sunscreen does not offer both, the label will have to carry this warning: “This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.”

• The FDA is banning companies from claiming that a sunscreen is “waterproof” or “sweat proof.” This is simply not possible. You'll now see the term “water resistant.” To make this claim, the product must pass another test. This test shows how long a sunscreen keeps its SPF when a person goes in the water or sweats. The label also must state how long the water resistance lasts, either 40 minutes or 80 minutes.

• New warning: If a sunscreen is not water-resistant, the label must carry a warning. This warning will tell you to use a water-resistant sunscreen if you are likely to sweat or be in water.

— The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)

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