Sun Safety: How to Protect Your Kids
Summer’s here, and that means plenty of outdoor time, whether it’s the beach, backyard or park. Don’t let a sunburn ruin the fun – here are tips for keeping kids safe.
Always Use Sunscreen
Apply a broad-spectrum UVA and UVB sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher 20-30 minutes before going outside, and reapply at least every two hours, even on cloudy days. If swimming or sweating, sunscreen needs to be applied more often. There is no such thing as a “waterproof” sunscreen. Instead, look for products that say “water resistant” for use in water. Reapply more often if perspiring excessively or toweling off frequently.
Avoid the Strongest Sun
If possible, avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Plan indoor activities during those hours, or seek shade under trees, umbrellas, or tents. A useful rule of thumb: if your shadow is shorter than you, the sun is directly above and it is best to head for cover. Risk of sunburn is increased by reflection from water and white sand.
Wear Protective Clothing
Wear protective clothing when outdoors, including a wide-brimmed hat to protect the face, scalp, ears and neck. In addition to filtering out the sun, tightly woven clothing reflects heat and helps you feel cool. Many retailers sell sun-protective clothing, including swimwear, for children. Sunglasses with UV protection (be sure to check the label) can help protect the eyes and eyelids from the harmful effects of UV light.
Selecting the Right Sunscreen
Choose a sunscreen that your child will wear – brand and types are a matter of personal preference. For sensitive skin, look for products that are fragrance free, or with ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which tend to be less irritating. Check the labels and try different products. Consult with your dermatologist if you continue to have trouble finding the right product for your child.
Spray sunscreens are fine, but make sure to apply them evenly to prevent skipped areas. To avoid inhalation of fumes, spray sunscreen on your hands, then apply it to your child’s face. Sunscreen is safe for infants 6 months and older. Infants should be kept out of direct sun; cover babies with protective clothing when possible. If sun exposure is unavoidable, sunscreen should be applied to exposed areas.
Treating a Sunburn
- Try using a cool bath to reduce the heat on the skin.
- Applying moisturizers right after a bath will help reduce dryness associated with a burn. Hydrocortisone cream can help ease the inflammation associated with a sunburn.
- Ibuprofen can help reduce the swelling, redness, and discomfort.
- Any blistering sunburn should be immediately evaluated by your pediatrician.
Source: The Society for Pediatric Dermatology, pedsderm.net