Your child’s skin is very vulnerable and prone to damage, including those that come from sun exposure. They are at risk almost the entire year, but it is most dangerous during summer time. During this time, there is usually more sunlight and it is bright longer than during winter. More than that, ultraviolet rays are strongest, too. Of the three kinds, UVA, UVB and UVC, the first 2 cause damage to the skin through sunburns and even skin cancer because they are not blocked by the ozone layer like UVC.
In fact, up to 80% of sun exposure during one’s lifetime happens during childhood, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Even just one instance of sunburn can mean your child will be twice more likely to contract melanoma when they grow older. Therefore, taking steps in protecting your child from the damaging rays of the sun is of utmost importance.
Thankfully, you would not need to keep your children indoors just to keep them safe. There are many ways to be able to enjoy the warm weather without increasing the risk of sun damage.
Applying sunscreen is the best protection against the sun
Ever wonder what SPF in those sunscreens actually means? It stands for sun protection factor, which is an estimated amount of time your child can stay under the sun before he or she gets sunburnt. Therefore, an SPF 25 cream protects your little one 25 times longer than without any sunscreen.
Because of this, applying sunblock is the best step you can take to protect their sensitive skin. By making this a habit while they are young, they will always have that extra layer to keep them from getting sunburnt.
Follow these steps on applying sunscreen properly and effectively. Use a cream with at least SPF 30 and apply it liberally to parts of the body that will be exposed. Do not forget the skin behind the neck and the ears. Do it half an hour before going out as it takes time before it takes effect. Bring some with you to be able to reapply whenever needed. In general, if your child gets wet with sweat or by swimming, you should apply it again. You can view our list of recommended sunscreens for kids here.
Use sun-protective clothes
If your child will be exposed to the sun for long amounts of time, it might make sense to put on clothing that provides protection against the sun. There are quite a few out in the market, from swimwear to summer clothing.
However, by choosing the right clothes you may also decrease the risk. Long-sleeved tops are good, the best would be dark, tightly-woven fabrics. To be sure, lift the shirt up into the light. If the light shines through, it does not provide a lot of protection then.
Stay indoors between 10 am and 4 pm
If possible, limit the time you go outdoors with your child when the rays of the sun are at their peak, between 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. Even if the day is cloudy, UV rays might still be very strong. The same goes for staying in the shade because sunlight can be reflected. If there is no way to avoid being out at this time, make sure to apply enough sunscreen.
Protect the eyes
Many parents fail to realize the risk of sun damage on the eyes. In fact, it can lead to burned corneas or cataracts. This is why wearing sunglasses can be very helpful, but make sure you only purchase those that really offer 100% UV protection. To be sure, buy from a qualified store or choose something that is certified.
Stay under the shade or avoid direct exposure
If you are outdoors when the sun is strongest, opt to spend more time under the shade to limit exposure. Choose playgrounds that are covered or bring an umbrella that offers UV protection. You may also put up a tent as added protection or simply sit under trees.
You may also limit exposure while driving or walking around with a stroller. First, you can choose a car with added shade on the windows or simply buy a cover. Strollers also have covers against sunlight or you may also purchase an umbrella to add shade.
By following these steps, you keep your child from getting sunburnt or worse, getting skin cancer in the future. As parents, this is part of your responsibility in keeping them healthy and happy as much as possible. Without limiting their outdoor activity, you can achieve this by following these simple steps.