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The Times
  • Dr. Murray Feingold: Summer sun safety

  • New FDA sunscreen labeling rules were supposed to go into effect in June of this year. However, the FDA has given sunscreen manufacturers a six month extension. But this does not mean that you have to wait six months before you start following some of the rules.

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  • Summer is just around the corner, and that means an increased exposure to the dangers of the sun.
    New FDA sunscreen labeling rules were supposed to go into effect in June of this year. However, the FDA has given sunscreen manufacturers a six month extension. But this does not mean that you have to wait six months before you start following some of the rules.
    There are two types of sunrays: ultraviolet A, or UVA, and ultraviolet B, or UVB. UVB causes a sunburn while UVA causes skin cancer and premature aging.
    Prior FDA rules dealt mainly with protection against UVB, but with the new rules, there must also be protection against UVA. This is termed broad-spectrum protection.
    Don’t wait until the new rules become law to make certain that the sunscreen you use contains both UVB and UVA protection. Read the label to determine if it contains both.
    How strong should the sunscreen be? Look for the sun protection factor, or SPF number. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends the use of broad-spectrum sunscreens that have a SPF of 30 or greater.
    The sunscreen should be applied about 15 minutes prior to being exposed to the sun. It should be reapplied after about two hours of sun exposure or after swimming or perspiring heavily.
    The new rules state sunscreens can no longer be identified as sun block or waterproof. Waterproof will be replaced by the words “water resistant.”
    Although many people use sunscreens on their skin, they forget about their lips. Lip balms should be applied every two hours and should also have a SPF of 30 or higher.
    Children are most vulnerable to the ravages of the sun. Sunburns in children are one of the leading causes of melanomas in adulthood. A youngster's skin is much more sensitive and, therefore, needs more protection. This includes covering exposed skin with clothing and wearing hats to protect their scalp.
    On a pleasant summer day, most people enjoy sitting outside, especially by a pool or on the beach. However, sun exposure needs to be limited and it is essential for people to use sunscreens as recommended.
    Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of The Feingold Center for Children, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio in Massachusetts, and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.
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