Summer is just days away! Although the outdoors can be beautiful when it is sunny, this is the time of year when UV rays are the strongest. That is why it is important that your family practices proper sun safety. Protecting a young child’s fragile skin will help teach them about healthy habits when they are in the sun. WhattoExpect.com and KidsHealth.org have great tips and information pertaining sun safety:
Choosing the Best Sunscreen: Choose a sunscreen with at least SPF 30. It should offer both UVA and UVB ray protection, which should say “broad spectrum” on the label. You may be wondering what the difference is between the two rays. UVA rays can cause skin aging and contribute to melanoma. UVB rays can cause sunburn and can affect the immune system. Making sure the sunscreen you purchase helps protect from both is critical. Also, make sure the sunscreen that you own is not expired. Sunscreen is meant to remain at its original strength for up to two to three years. If sunscreen has an expiration date on it, discard of the lotion if it is past that date.
Every Area of Skin is Important: It is important to put sunscreen on any skin areas that are exposed such as the face, arms, and legs. However, it is important to also apply sunscreen to a toddler’s ears, neck, tops of feet, hands, scalp, and back of legs. Surprisingly, lips can burn too! Protect your little one’s lips with a lip balm that has SPF 15. In addition, the younger children are, the more susceptible they are to sun damage because their skin has not fully developed melanin and at this point in their young lives, their skin is thinner. This is a great reason why it is always a safe idea to apply sunscreen everywhere to decrease the risk of skin damage.
No Such Thing as Too Much: It is a rule of thumb to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors and then reapply every two hours. It may be a good idea to apply the sunscreen more frequently than that if your child is playing in the water or sweating. It is also a good idea to make sure the sunscreen that you purchase is waterproof based on the activity level and types of activities that your child is participating in while they are outside. Also, just because it is cloudy outside on certain days, it does not mean that sunscreen should not be worn. Up to 80% of UV rays can get through clouds, so it is essential for children to wear sunscreen no matter what the weather is outside.
Timing is Everything: Sometimes, it is inevitable to keep your children out of the sun during the time that the sun’s UV rays are the strongest, which is between, 10am and 4pm. So if they are out there during those times, encourage children to play near the shade or sit under an umbrella while at the beach. And remember, put on extra sunscreen and reapply often!
Cover Up: Clothes offer protection from the sun, however, there is only so much that clothes can protect. If you want to take extra precaution, put sunscreen on your toddler’s skin that is covered by their shirt. Also, when a child is wearing dark clothing, the more UV rays will pass through. Protecting a little one’s face with a hat or cap with a brim will help shield their face. Sunglasses with at least 97% – 100% UV protection will protect the skin around their eyes and, most importantly, their eyes! Plus they will be the most stylish child on the block!
Be a role model: Children will follow by the great example of their older family members. If the adults and older siblings are wearing hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen, younger children may begin to understand the importance and want to participate in sun safety. If the adults are protecting themselves from the sun, than it must be a cool and healthy habit!
What tips do you have for protecting your child(ren) from the sun?