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Operation Safe Children: Applying sunscreen the right way

HOUSTON (KPRC) - Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital Dr. Shannan McCann teaches patients that applying sunscreen can be fun by making it a game, like "Simon Says."

She also warns that many people aren't using enough.

"On average, the majority of people only apply 25-50% of the needed amount of sunscreen to get that sun protective factor, so it's important to make sure you apply enough," McCann says.

She said the correct amount to apply is way more than you think - think golf ball size or a shot glass full of sunscreen.  

Sunscreens in aerosol cans typically get less approval than creams, but McCann says it's better to use them than fight about it.

She also suggests the following guidelines:

- Reapply every 2 hours
- Apply at least 15-30 minutes before going in the sun or pool
- Look for Broad Spectrum coverage
- Water resistant
- Pay close attention to spots frequently missed: ears, hands and feet
- Protect the part line on scalps -- wear a hat

For applying sunscreen spray, McCann says your best bet is to apply it indoors in a thick layer and be sure to rub it in.

Experts say to keep exposure to a minimum for babies under 6 months old. However, brands marketed toward babies contain hypoallergenic components and, according to McCann, are preferred when very young children are in the sun.

Remember sunscreen expires. Every three years it's time for a new bottle, but McCann said you should be going through at least an entire bottle in one summer -- probably more.

Story info via KPRC


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