In the United States, soccer is one of the fastest growing sports among school age children. Since most soccer is played outdoors during warmer weather, young athletes are vulnerable to the dangers of excessive sun exposure.

Sun safety is critical for a healthy outdoor sporting experience. In addition to the proper equipment, shin guards and cleats, players and parents should ensure gear bags include skin protection – sunscreen, hats, and water bottles.

Dermatologists are explaining the dangers of sun exposure to coaches in hopes to spread the word among local soccer leagues.

The Sun Safe Soccer program, from the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery advocates proper application of sunscreen, hydration, and use of sun-protective clothing for all young players. Taking a rest under your portable sports umbrella is also a great way to give your skin a break.

While the risk of burning is lower in individuals of certain ethnicities that have darker skin, their risk of skin cancer is not nonexistent. People of all colors and ethnic backgrounds should follow the same sun safety guidelines.

Sun exposure in early life, particularly during the first 10 years, has the most impact on one’s lifetime skin cancer risk. You want your children to play outside and be physically active, but you don’t want to expose them to skin health dangers.

The good news is that many skin cancers can be prevented by taking simple steps on and off the field.

  • Stay in the shade when possible and try to avoid the peak ultraviolet levels between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Use sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Studies have shown sunscreen use reduces the risk of melanoma-related cancer.
  • Limit the amount of skin exposed to the sun by wearing sun-protective clothing. Stay hydrated during play and after the game, cool off in the shade with long-sleeves and hats and drink appropriate fluids.

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