Skin protection begins at a young age

With school ending, children will be spending more time outside and more time exposed to the sun. Hannah Howard, M.D., a dermatologist with Utica Park Clinic, said being conscious of the sun at a young age can help children as they get older.

“Sun damage is cumulative,” Howard said. “If you start early in kids, it can really make a difference long term. One in five Americans develop skin cancer by age 70. That’s a good reason to start early.”

Howard gave some tips, beginning at the infant stage, on helping protect kids from harmful exposure to the sun.

Here are Howard’s tips:

• Infants through six months should not be in the sun (or in direct sunlight). Hats, sunglasses and strollers can help limit exposure if an infant is outside under the sun. 

• Start applying sunscreen at six months and older. Find sunscreen with at least 30-50 SPF and marketed for kids. Howard notes sunscreens with titanium and zinc are better for sensitive skin.

• Howard suggests applying sunscreen about every 90 minutes during outdoor activities.

• Look for clothes with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF), which Howard said can be found at various sporting goods stores. She also endorsed Coolibar, a clothing line focused on sun protection.

• Traveling in the family vehicle during summer vacations can also mean prolonged sun exposure for children. Howard suggests either wearing sunscreen in the car or ensuring that car windows are covered by an ultraviolet A (UVA) protective window film.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. For more information on skin health, make an appointment with a Utica Park Clinic dermatologist in Tulsa or Owasso. Call 918-579-DOCS (3627) or go to