Summer Sun Exposure- Tips to Help Your Child Avoid Getting Burned
Summer is every child’s favorite time of year. School is out which means your child will likely be spending more time in the pool, at amusement parks, at the beach, or simply outside playing in the yard. With outdoor activity comes the increased risk of sun damage to your child’s skin. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it only takes a few serious sunburns to damage your child’s skin for life and increase their risk of skin cancer in the future. Here, we’ll provide helpful tips to prevent sun damage so your child can enjoy spending time outdoors this summer.
Sunscreen, Sunscreen, Sunscreen!
We cannot emphasize this enough. If your child is going out into the sun, the best way you can prevent skin damage is by applying the proper sunscreen. Sunscreen protects the skin by filtering the sun’s powerful rays. They come in lotions, gels, sprays and sticks. Lotions are always best for ensuring that you thoroughly cover all of your child’s exposed areas. Sticks can be an effective (and fast!) way to protect your child’s face, lips and ears. Avoid sprays as they make it nearly impossible to see which areas have been covered and which have not. Be careful when applying sunscreen to your child’s face to avoid contact with the eyes. It’s also very important to remember that ALL skin can burn no matter what your child’s complexion may be.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Johns Hopkins Medicine, always make sure you are using at least SPF 15 or higher. Anything less will be ineffective in protecting your child’s skin. It’s also very important to read the label of your sunscreen thoroughly to make sure it is waterproof or water resistant. You’ll also want to make sure the sunscreen you choose is “broad spectrum” and protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
Remember that not all sunscreens are perfect for your child’s needs. If irritation occurs, stop using the product and contact your child’s pediatrician immediately. If you know your child has sensitive skin, look for products with the active ingredient titanium dioxide. It’s usually a good idea to test sunscreen on your child’s skin a few hours prior to sun exposure to ensure that your child’s skin reacts well to the product.
We all know that children can be unpredictable. Be sure you are prepared with a bottle of sunscreen in your car, in your home and in your purse or backpack. That way you’ll be ready when you’re suddenly rushing to the pool or park on short notice.
Stay Cool in the Shade
The most effective way to avoid skin damage due to sun exposure is to avoid the sun’s rays altogether. If going outdoors, encourage your child to spend time in shaded areas with tree cover or under an umbrella or awning. This will also help your child avoid dehydration and overheating in the summer heat. It’s also important to note that infants should be kept in the shade as much as possible as their skin is more sensitive and susceptible to damage than older children.
If you know your child will be going out in the sun, be sure to dress them appropriately. It’s important to protect your child’s skin with clothing when possible to help them avoid getting burned. The summer heat may prevent you from dressing your child in a long-sleeve shirt and pants. That being said, hats that offer full coverage of your child’s scalp, face, ears and neck can be very effective in preventing excess sun exposure. Encourage your children to wear UV protection sunglasses when going outdoors as the sun can damage a child’s eyes as well.
Promote Healthy Habits
Helping your children develop healthy habits will help them the most in the long run. Encouraging them to utilize the tips above will help them throughout their entire lives.
It’s also very important to remember that suntanned skin is still damaged skin. Try to discourage your children from tanning or intentionally laying in the sun to darken their complexion. As your child gets older, encourage them to moisturize and use sunscreen daily. This will drastically improve the quality and health of their skin for years to come.
If your child is spending time in the sunshine, be prepared. Keep sunscreen on hand at all times and be aware of the dangers of the sun. Keep your child hydrated and well-fed if they are spending time in the summer heat to avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration.
Contact Glen Allen Pediatrics to discuss any health-related issues regarding your child. You can dial 804-282-4210 today to schedule an appointment with an experienced pediatrician.