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Poison Center Helpline 1-800-222-1222


It’s a must for long summer days and anytime we’re in the sun: Sunscreen protects us from harmful ultraviolet rays, both UVA and UVB rays. Too much exposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer—the most common type of cancer in the U.S.—as well as cause sunburn, wrinkles and age spots.

Choose a sunscreen that meets these three criteria:

  • Broad-spectrum protection, meaning it protects from both UVA and UVB rays

  • Minimum of SPF 30

  • Water resistant

Be sure to reapply every 2 hours you’re outside, and choose a water-resistant formula for swimming and playing sports.

Sunscreen safety tips

  • Use the product as directed on the label.

  • Keep sunscreens locked out of sight and reach of children. Sunscreen can be appealing to children because it often has a sweet, fruity odor. Luckily, sunscreen is minimally toxic.

  • Don’t let children handle the bottles. Apply the sunscreen to your hands first, then put it on the child.

  • Don’t use sunscreen on wounds or broken skin.

  • When using suncreen sprays, do not spray it directly onto the face. Spray it into your hands, then apply to face to avoid getting sunscreen into the eyes.

Each summer, IPC handles approximately 200 exposures to sunscreen. These exposures are mainly children who swallow a mouthful or people who accidentally get sunscreen in their eyes. Most of these exposures have in minimal effects.

IPC is here to help. Calls to IPC’s helpline, 1-800-222-1222, are free and confidential. IPC toxicology experts are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If your child swallowed sunscreen, visit our My Child Ate…Sunscreen webpage. If you or someone else got sunscreen in the eyes, view our eye exposure information

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