Contact 6: The importance of sunscreen

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Time to start thinking of ways to beat the summer heat!  But is one of those ways which sunscreen you'll use this year?

Skin cancer expert, Dr. Nanette Liegeois (M.D. Ph.D.) says people of all ages seem to let their sunscreen concerns slip!

"People are often very slow to embrace adequate sun protection and they assume that a tan is healthy," says Dr. Liegeois.  "However, it's not healthy and it ends up causing melanoma.  And we're seeing that more and more."

Dr. Liegeois says being seen even more are instances of skin cancer among children, and she stresses the need for a quality sunscreen.

"I think children now are more at risk because they're spending so much time outside," Dr. Liegeois says.  "The other thing is that we're finding more and more advanced and metastatic melanomas in children, much more so than 10-20 years ago, and that's a startling statistic."

But which sunscreen to choose with so many on the shelves?

Consumer Reports magazine recently revealed its results from testing 12 different sunscreens - from high-end name-brands to low-cost generics.  Two generic brands took top scores - Target's "Up&Up" and Walmart's "Equate."

CLICK HERE TO READ THE RATINGS REPORT

"On my own children, I actually use generic sunscreen," Dr. Liegeois adds.

And if the possibility of getting skin cancer just isn't enough incentive to get yourself a good sunscreen this summer, consider this:  "Sunscreen doesn't just protect from skin cancer, sunscreen prevents wrinkles," Dr. Liegeois adds with a smile.  "And so for people who are interested in preventing the aging effect of wrinkles, they should take sunscreen very seriously."

TIPS TO PREVENT SKIN DAMAGE:

- use an SPF of 30 or higher.  The FDA recently reported that sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or lower will come with a warning about skin cancer.

- make sure your kids wear sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses when exposed to direct sunlight.  Many stores also make "sun-protective clothing" that will cover most of a child's body but still be breathable.

- re-apply sunscreen every two hours if you're in the water or sweating.  The FDA says the term "waterproof" is impossible to prove and should not be relied on for sun protection under these conditions.

- try to avoid direct sunlight between the hours of 10:00am and 2:00pm, when the suns rays are strongest.

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