The incidence of skin cancers in the United States is rising. This has correlated with a life-time of sun exposure and cumulative damage of repetitive sun-related injuries such as tanning and sunburning. It is estimated that 80% of sun damage occurs before the age of 18 years. This relates to excessive tanning, blistering sunburns, and ineffective sun protection. It has been demonstrated that children can be taught to protect themselves from the sun. However, teaching of sun protection needs to begin at an early age. Such education requires that parents enforce protection in the household and through their actions in sunny situations. It has become apparent from the literature in the United States that we have made strides in sun education, but we have not yet instituted an effective nationwide education plan. This article reviews the data we have in the United States on sun protection, with a focus toward helping to design better education programs for the future. Based on the literature, it would seem that sun education should combine teaching mothers about sun protection in the nursery and teaching schools how to educate youngsters on the need for sun protection, beginning in nursery school. Improvements in education will have a latency of many years for reducing skin cancer incidence but will be an excellent investment in the future cutaneous health of today's children.
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