It’s supposed to stop raining and fun time in the sun is here. It’s very important to understand the ways to protect your child from harmful UV and UVB sun rays- no matter how fair or dark complected- sunburn effects everyone! And just a few slight burns can add up- the effect of sun damage overtime can snowball into skin cancer. So, it’s important that your child’s skin is protected from harmful rays whenever they are outdoors.
Shade is best. Avoid doing things out of doors in the middle of the day- plan your activities for the morning or after 3 p.m. If that’s impossible, hang out under trees, umbrellas or a pop up tent. Beach umbrellas or small hand umbrellas are great and you can pick up cheap (under 20.00), easy to set up tents at most discount stores.
Clothing is great- your child probably won’t want to wear long pants and sleeves, but shorts and tee shirts are great too. Just remember to use sunscreen on exposed skin.
Hats are great too, but remember the kid’s favorites may not cover the scalp, tips of ears and necks. If that’s the case, sunscreen is needed. You can be a desert rat and add a bandana to the back of a ball cap, but if that’s not possible, you have to add sunscreen.
Eyes need protection too! Go and get everyone some cheap sunglasses- lots of pairs, they are easy to loose!
You must use sunscreen that is at least SPR 15, but anything over 50 is a waste of money and may give you a false sense of security. Remember the SPF number refers to how much longer you could stay in the sun than if not using sunscreen under perfect conditions; applied correctly (that means enough, most of us are stingy when applying), it isn’t sweated off, or lost in the pool. Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before hanging around in the sun, and it must be reapplied after swimming, lots of sweating- that goes for waterproof sunscreen too! If you aren’t losing your sunscreen to sweat or the pool, it still should be reapplied every 2 hours if you can’t go inside. Two hours is a good rule of thumb for safe sun exposure WITH sunscreen. And remember, clouds do not block UV rays, they filter them—and sometimes only slightly. UV Rays are the cause of sun damage- not warm temperatures.
Children still need protection. UV rays, not the temperature, do the damage. Remember to put sunscreen on the tops of feet if your child is wearing sandals, on the tops of their ears, any scalp the is exposed to the sun at the part.
Follow the directions on the package for using a sunscreen product on babies less than 6 months old. All products do not have the same ingredients; if your or your child’s skin reacts badly to one product, try another one or call a doctor. Your baby’s best defense against sunburn is avoiding the sun or staying in the shade.
Levels of Sun Damage from the CDC:
Turning pink? Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes. Yet it can take up to 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure. So, if your child’s skin looks “a little pink” today, it may be burned tomorrow morning. To prevent further burning, get your child out of the sun.
Tan? There’s no other way to say it—tanned skin is damaged skin. Any change in the color of your child’s skin after time outside—whether sunburn or suntan—indicates damage from UV rays.
Kids often get sunburned when they are outdoors unprotected for longer than expected. Remember to plan ahead, and keep sun protection handy—in your car, bag, or child’s backpack.
Thomas Learning Centers provides sunscreen from Rocky Mt. Sunscreen to parent for a nominal charge. Of course you are welcome to provide your favorite brand as well.