Summertime is the most important time to protect your children from the sun’s rays. Staying in the shade and covering up the skin are the most protective ways to avoid sun exposure and always your first line of defense. But, for those sunny outdoor days where exposure is expected, sunscreen can provide protections from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
To protect against the sun, apply sunscreen to dry skin approximately 15-30 minutes before any exposure. This allows time for it to properly absorb. It is recommended to use at least a 30 SPF or higher. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, SPF is the sun protection factor and tells you, when used exactly as directed, how long it would take for the sun to burn your skin vs. the amount of time if no protection at all were used. For example, a SPF of 30 means it takes 30 times longer to burn than with no protection at all. SPF mainly refers to a sunscreen’s UVB protection, though those labeled as “broad-spectrum” also protection against harmful UVA rays which can cause skin damage and premature aging.
Children less than 6 months of age should remain in the shade with light-weight sun protective clothing. For those 6 months and older, it is recommended you use a water-resistant screen with SPF of 30 or more to all exposed skin not covered by protective clothing. Apply as often as label directs, at least every 2 hours and after getting out of the water. For those young children or ones with sensitive skin, there are mineral-based sunscreens that use titanium dioxide and zinc and often cause less irritation. Cream sunscreens are also recommended over spray-on to ensure full coverage and avoid inhalation. Many sunscreens are water resistant, offering up to 40 minutes of protection in water, or very water resistant, offering up to 80 minutes of protection in the water. Make sure to check your sunscreen labels for this information. You should always re-apply after getting out of the water or sweating to ensure protection. Cloudy day? Still apply sunscreen! Clouds do not block out UV rays, they filter them, so sunburns and exposure are still possible.
Keep your children safe from the sun! Most sun damage occurs during childhood; a few serous sunburns can increase their future risk for skin cancer.
Contact us if your child gets a sunburn that results in fever, chills or blistering.