May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, which makes this a good time to check the expiration date on last year's sunscreen.
It's that time of year when everyone's looking forward to some fun in the sun. Too much sun can be dangerous, though. Exposure to UV radiation from the sun damages your skin, and children are especially vulnerable because they tend to spend more time outdoors and can burn easily.
Skin damage from the sun increases your risk of developing:
One way to protect your skin is to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor, or SPF, of at least 30, even on cloudy days. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you're swimming or perspiring. Use a generous amount of sunscreen on all exposed skin, including your lips, the tips of your ears, and the backs of your hands and neck.
Sunscreens are required by the Food and Drug Administration to remain at their original strength for at least three years. This means that you can use leftover sunscreen from one year to the next. Some sunscreens include an expiration date — a date indicating when they're no longer effective. Discard sunscreen that is past its expiration date. If you buy sunscreen that doesn't have an expiration date, write the date of purchase on the bottle. Throw out the bottle when three years have passed since the purchase date.
In addition to sunscreen, avoid sun exposure in the middle of the day when the UV rays are strongest, wear sunglasses that block both types of UV radiation — UVA and UVB rays — and wear a broad-brimmed hat and other protective clothing.
Exercising and enjoying time outdoors are important for good health. Staying protected from the sun will allow you and your family to do so safely.