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Protecting kids from skin cancer with sunscreen in schools

A dermatologist advocates for sunscreen access in public schools.

Dr. Redbord's story

Kelley Pagliai Redbord, MD
Kelley Pagliai Redbord, MD, dermatologist
Every day, I treat patients with serious skin conditions and educate them on ways to achieve healthy skin. However, my work doesn't stop there. I also advocate for policies that promote overall health, including protecting children from skin cancer, which is the most common cancer.

Sun exposure can lead to skin cancer later in life. Approximately 3 million adults in the U.S. are treated annually for skin cancer, costing nearly $8.1 billion per year. Daily, nearly 20 Americans die from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Staying in the shade, wearing sun-protective clothing, and applying sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher are effective ways to lower the risk of skin cancer.

During the school year, it’s problematic that many children spend significant time outside without access to sunscreen. Medication bans prohibiting students from using sunscreen in schools are still in place in many states, putting children at risk of skin damage. Some parents apply their child's sunscreen before school, but proper usage means reapplication every two hours. With these rules in place, that can't happen.

Many states have listened to the expertise of dermatologists and adopted legislation allowing children access to sunscreen at school. We have the resources to prevent skin cancer, and we must continue to educate parents, school administrators, and state legislators until every child has access to sunscreen.

A parent's perspective

SkinSerious patient story, Britton Bitterman

“As a mom, I take my child’s health seriously, including protecting him from the sun. He doesn’t leave the house without applying sunscreen and it’s frustrating that when he’s at school, there’s no access to it. I once picked up my 10-year-old from school sunburned. If he were allowed to use sunscreen, then that wouldn't have happened. I’m grateful for Dr. Redbord's advocacy work since it can pave the way for healthier children now and in the future. I rely on the expertise of dermatologists and am grateful for their desire to seek change on behalf of us and other families.”

─ Britton Bitterman

Patient & physician stories

Learn how board-certified dermatologists have helped patients with serious skin disease and collaborated with other doctors to enhance patient care.

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