With summer just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about sun protection for everyone in the family! Here are our tips for safe sun practices:
Age is important:
Babies under six months have different suncare needs than older children. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, this is because infants have thinner skin that is more vulnerable to absorbing the chemicals in sunscreen. Healthline recommends keeping children of this age out of direct sunlight and using lightweight, protective clothing. If absolutely necessary, sunscreen can be safely applied to small areas, such as the face and back of the hands. After six months, use a sunscreen of SPF 15+ to protect from UVA and UVB rays.
More than just sunscreen:
Limit outdoor play between 10 am and 4 pm to minimize the most damaging exposure to direct sunlight. Parents can set an example by wearing sun hats and sunglasses with UVB protection. One of the best ways to minimize exposure is to bring some kind of umbrella or shade along to outdoor activities.
Make sunscreen routine:
Applying sunscreen 30 minutes before exposure is the most effective way to protect skin from sun damage. Getting into the habit of preparing for sun exposure creates good habits that kids will carry with them later in life. When choosing a sunscreen, look for one with mineral agents, like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These are better for sensitive skin than chemical sunscreens. If you do choose a chemical sunscreen, avoid those containing PABA or oxybenzone. Remind kids that sunscreen is important even when it’s cloudy outside. Remember to find a good SPF lip balm as well! Help kids remember to reapply their sunscreen every 2-3 hours when they’re outside.
If your child does get sunburned, it’s important to remind them to drink water as sunburns can be dehydrating. For mild burns, Parent magazine recommends natural remedies such as icing the skin, taking a cool bath or applying aloe vera or honey. Burns accompanied by fever or blistering are second-degree burns, and require the attention of a pediatrician. For mild infant sunburn, Pregnancy.org recommends running cool water over the burn, using calamine lotion if the skin is not painful to touch, and applying cool compresses. Sunburns on infants younger than 6 months or that cover more than 10% of an infant’s body should be brought to a pediatrician.
Know the risks:
Getting sunburns as a child can increase the lifetime risk for skin cancer. Teenagers especially should be made aware of the long-term risks that come with too much sun exposure. Creating healthy sun habits from infancy on is the best way protect your child from sun damage later in life. So before heading out this summer, remember to put on that sunscreen!