Are you playing it sun smart?

By Staff
Michelle Blaylock, Mom's Corner
The Blaylock Home has been very busy over the last few weeks. It all started with softball season. My youngest daughter loves softball. She started playing three years ago and can't wait for signup each spring. Well, this year she was selected to be on the all-stars team. Before she was nominated I was asked if we could commit to it. The coach explained she would probably practice at least four times a week and possibly be in some independent travel tournaments in addition to the all-stars tournaments. I was also told if the team won we could end up in North Carolina for the World Series. My husband and I talked it over and decided we could do it.
We were ready for the practices and I thought I was ready for the games, but I was mistaken. It's not the money for the tournaments. It's not the traveling. It's not the packing the coolers with food and drink. It is the sun and the heat! At our first travel tournament a few weeks ago, I thought I was going to bake. The field we were at wasn't like our fields here. It didn't have any shade of any kind except a few trees at the very back of the softball park. If you wanted to watch the games there was no way you could take advantage of that shade.
After about 20 minutes, my very perceptive hubby noticed his wife was not looking quite so well. I was already getting a migraine. He said, "I think I'll go check the local Wal-Mart and see if they have any of the pavilion type things." He came back about 40 minutes later with one. He said, "This will make these games a lot more pleasant." Umm, yeah.
Of course, even with the pavilion we still need sunscreen. Lots and lots of sunscreen. As I'm putting this stuff on my children, I began to wonder just what it does and how it works. So I came home and began to research it. I found web-sites with pages and pages of information.
Basically sunscreen either reflects, scatters, or absorbs ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Ultraviolet radiation is broken down into three wavelengths. There is UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. UV-C is absorbed by our atmosphere so we don't have to worry about that one. UV-A is the longest and penetrates the skin deeply. UV-B is the one responsible for our sunburns. That is the one that sunscreen mostly protects against and is the one that the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) refers to.
So just how does that SPF work anyway. That's what I wanted to know. Well, this is what the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has to say: "The sunscreen SPF rating is calculated by comparing the amount of time needed to produce a sunburn on sunscreen protected skin to the amount of time needed to cause a sunburn on unprotected skin. For example, if a sunscreen is rated SPF 2 and a fair-skinned person who would normally turn red after ten minutes of exposure in the sun uses it, it would take twenty minutes of exposure for the skin to turn red. A sunscreen with an SPF of 15 would allow that person to multiply that initial burning time by 15, which means it would take 15 times longer to burn, or 150 minutes."
However, there is a little glitch to this. It doesn't work in the higher SPF's. For example, SPF 30 doesn't give twice the amount of protection that SPF 15 does. SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of the suns harmful rays and SPF 30 blocks 97 percent of those rays. So although it does offer a little more protection it isn't double that of the SPF 15.
I was also curious as to how much of the sunscreen I really needed to use. Well, according to the AAD, we need to use about an ounce of sunscreen for adequate protection. So a 6 ounce bottle of sunscreen should only last through six applications.
Also, sunscreen should be re-applied every two hours. Also, according to the AAD, waterproof sunscreen is not entirely waterproof. Therefore, it should also be re-applied frequently.
Well, my curiosity is satisfied. I have to admit I don't like the feel of sunscreen on my skin, but after reading all the information on it. I believe it to be necessary. The one thing the AAD didn't tell me was how on earth to get a squirming four-year-old to hold still long enough to put that sunscreen on!
If you have a question or comment for Mom's Corner, please e-mail it to: moms-corner@juno.com.

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