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Sun Safety Background Information

Skin Cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the United States.  It is linked to sun exposure in youth and is preventable.  St. Joseph School would like to promote practices which help protect our children from the sun.  Sun protection measures can include:

  1. Wearing appropriate clothing.  Covering up the skin by wearing long sleeves or hats can provide a practical barrier to the effects from the sun.  Sun glasses can also protect the eyes from harmful UV rays. 
  2. Using Sun Protection (SPF) sunscreens.  While some people are at greater risk to damage from the sun due to factors such as skin type and family history, everyone benefits from the use of sunscreen.
  3. Skin cancer is the most common and preventable type of cancer in the United States.  Since 1973, new cases of melanoma have increased 150%.
  4. Research indicates that most people receive as much as 80% of their total lifetime UV exposure during their first 18 years.
  5. Protection from UV exposure during childhood and adolescence reduces the risk for skin cancer.
  6. Using sunscreen is one of the most commonly practiced and easiest behaviors for preventing skin cancer.
  7.  The American Academy of Dermatology suggests that everyone should use a sunscreen of SPF of at least 15 year round.
  8. Sunscreen should be applied if you are going to be exposed to the sun for more than 20 minutes.
  9. 80% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays pass through the clouds.  Sunscreen should be used even on cloudy days.   
  10.  SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor.  SPF numbers can range from 2-60.  These numbers refer to the product’s ability to block the sun’s rays.  The SPF is calculated by comparing the amount of time needed to produce sunburn on protected skin to the amount of time needed to cause sunburn on unprotected sun.  For example, a person who would normally burn after 10 minutes in the sun will take 20 minutes to burn if using SPF 2 product.  If a person uses SPF 15, he/she has 150 minutes before he/she will burn.
  11. Sunscreen should be applied to dry skin 15-30 minutes prior to going outside.
  12. One ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) is considered the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body properly.

While sunscreens are not strictly classified as a medicine, it is a product that has guidelines which should be followed for effective and safe use.  Therefore, St. Joseph School has created a Sun Safety/Sunscreen Use Policy.  Parents or guardians have the prime responsibility for their child’s health.  Parents also know if their child is of greater risk to sun damage and the needs of that child for sun protection.  St Joseph’s goal is to ensure that parents decide on the sun protection needs of their children.

Although St Joseph skin safety guidelines are intended for school use, they are a guide for children and adults whenever they spend time in outdoor settings.  These practices, if adopted as healthy habits throughout life, can have an important impact on the prevention of skin cancer.