Home / Learn About Tanning / UV Protection

UV Protection


With the alarming numbers of skin cancers being diagnosed around the world, it is increasingly evident that people of all colors need protection from ultraviolet radiation.

Protection should begin as soon as a baby is born and continue throughout life. This is particularly important for people who have fair skin and light eyes. Babies should be kept out of direct sun light and should wear sun protective clothing, including hats and sunglasses. While most sunscreen can be used on infants, it is better to only use a sunblock with zinc and/or titanium dioxide. Apply the sunblock only on exposed skin such as hands and face and only when exposure is unavoidable.

As a child grows, UV protection habits should become as routine as brushing teeth. For most children, 23 percent of their lifetime exposure will happen before the age of 18. While 23 percent is not as much as the widely quoted figure of 80 percent (now shown to be a misinterpretation), the damage is significant and can be compounded by subsequent exposure. Children should routinely wear sun protective clothing that covers their arms and legs. They should learn to apply sunscreen every morning to exposed skin, such as hands and face, before going outside and to reapply every two hours while outside. They should wear a sun protective hat with a 3-inch brim, and sunglasses. These are habits that should be established early.

Adolescents can be more difficult to convince to use sun protection, but it is equally important that they do. They should use the same methods described above, and they should begin to check their skin for changes. While skin cancers are still unusual in teenagers, more and more are being diagnosed. UV protection should be encouraged. Do not allow your teenagers to use tanning beds. Self-tanning lotions or spray-on tans at a salon may help a teen who wants a little color to achieve that safely.

Adults should use UV protection daily. Skin cancers can be triggered at any time, and damaged skin from childhood exposure may be more vulnerable. Further, some damage can be reversed by using sun protection. Adults should routinely check their skin.

Outdoor workers and baby boomers are at high risk for skin cancer. Outdoor workers should always use UV protection and check their skin. They should also talk to their employers about strategies for sun protection. Baby boomers and seniors should use sun protection and check their skin regularly as skin cancer is more likely to occur in older age groups.