Children don’t have to be at the pool or beach to get too much sun.
In the hottest months of the year, families love spending time outdoors at the pool or the lake, doing fun activities or playing sports. But it’s all fun and games until someone in the family gets a sunburn. Everyone can get a sunburn. It’s important to remember to protect everyone in the family against the sun’s rays. Children especially need to be protected from the sun’s burning rays, since most sun damage occurs in childhood. Like other burns, sunburns leave the skin red, warm and painful. In severe cases, they cause blistering, fever, chills, headache and a general feeling of illness.
But you can prevent all that! Check out these tips for keeping children safe from the sun from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Dermatology.
SUN SAFETY FOR BABIES UNDER 6 MONTHS
Babies under 6 months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight. Keep your baby in the shade under a tree, umbrella or stroller canopy. Dress babies in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs. And use brimmed hats that shade the neck to prevent sunburn.
When sun-blocking clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen to small areas, such as the infant’s face and the back of the hands. Remember to apply 30 minutes before going in the sun to be effective.
If an infant gets a sunburn, apply cool compresses to the affected area.
SUN SAFETY FOR EVERYONE.
The sun is most harmful during midday. So, it’s best to plan indoor activities then. If you have to be outside, seek shade under a tree, an umbrella or a pop-up tent. The sun’s damaging UV rays can bounce back from sand, water, snow or concrete; so be particularly careful of these areas.
Get a hat.
Hats that shade the face, scalp, ears and neck give great protection and are easy to use. Many kids love baseball caps, but they don’t protect the ears and neck.
They protect your child’s eyes from UV rays, which can lead to cataracts later in life. Look for sunglasses that wrap around and block as much UVA and UVB rays as possible.
When possible, long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts can provide protection from UV rays. Select clothes made of tightly woven fabrics. Cotton clothing is both cool and protective.
Cool and cloudy?
Children still need protection. UV rays, not the temperature, do the damage. Clouds do not block UV rays, they filter them — and sometimes only slightly.
LATHER ON THE SUNSCREEN.
When choosing a sunscreen, look for the words “broad-spectrum” on the label. That means that the sunscreen protects against both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays. Choose a water-resistant sunscreen. Then, reapply every two hours or after swimming, sweating or towel drying. You may want to select a sunscreen that does not contain the ingredient oxybenzone, a sunscreen chemical that may have hormonal properties. Zinc oxide, a very effective sunscreen, can be used as extra protection on the nose, cheeks, tops of ears and shoulders.
- Use a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. The additional benefits of using sunscreen with SPF 50+ are limited.
- Rub sunscreen in well, making sure to cover all exposed areas, especially the face, nose, ears, feet, hands, and even the backs of knees.
- Put on sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors — it needs time to work on the skin.
- Sunscreens should be used for sun protection and not as a reason to stay in the sun longer.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after each time swimming or sweating.