One of the great joys of summertime is the opportunity to spend time outside. Visits to the pool, gatherings with friends and family, or simply playing in the yard under the warm sun are just a few of the many activities we enjoy. 

For many lacrosse athletes, summer also includes more time engaged with the sport they love, including camps, clinics, and tournaments. Some of these events require many hours spent on the field under a blazing sun. Taking the proper precautions to be sun safe is vitally important.

More than just being a painful annoyance, sunburns and sun damage can also increase the risk of skin cancer. Melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, is the second most common form of cancer in young people between the ages of 10-19, and the most common cancer among those between the ages of 20-30. While a combination of factors can cause melanoma, doctors believe that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is a significant factor.

The good news is that taking the proper precautions can significantly lower the risk of melanoma. For outdoor athletes, these safeguards include consistent application of liquid sunscreen, wearing UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) 50 clothing that blocks damaging rays from reaching the skin, finding some shade whenever possible, and getting annual screenings by a licensed dermatologist. 

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that all youth wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Additionally, hats that shade the face, scalp, ears, and neck are easy to use and give good protection.

Doctors also remind us not to forget our eyes since extended sun exposure can potentially damage the eyes as well as the skin. The best way to protect eyes is to wear sunglasses that provide 100% UV protection. UV rays are strongest and most harmful during the midday hours.

Providing the lacrosse community with greater awareness and education about melanoma, its prevention, and playing sun safe, is a driving force behind US Lacrosse’s partnership with the Claire Marie Foundation

“By working together, we can keep young athletes safe while playing in the sun and reduce the chance that they will have to give up the sport they love to treat a melanoma diagnosis they don’t deserve,” said Marianne Banister of the Claire Marie Foundation.

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