The well-known link between sun exposure and the development of skin cancer is a major concern for pediatricians. Adequate sun safety for your children demands your closest attention!
Remember, sunburn can occur even on cloudy days and UV rays can be reflected off water, sand and concrete. Set a good example by teaching all members of your family how to protect their skin and eyes—here are some helpful tips:
- First and foremost, USE SUNSCREEN even on cloudy days.
- Use a sunscreen labeled “Broad Spectrum;” it will screen out both UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen should be used as sun protection and not a reason to stay in the sun longer. Remember sunscreen can help protect skin from sunburn and some skin cancers, but only if used correctly.
- Use a sunscreen of at least 30 SPF (Sun Protection Factor). The higher the SPF, the more UVB protection the sunscreen has.
- There is now a new UVA rating system: one star is low UVA protection and four stars the highest over-the-counter UVA protection.
- Put sunscreen on 30 minutes before going outdoors and rub in well to cover all exposed areas of the skin.
- Sunscreen may be applied to babies younger than six months on small areas of the baby (i.e., face and back of hands) if protective clothing and shade are NOT available. Be careful around the eyes.
- For children whose skin becomes irritated by a particular sunscreen, try a sunscreen stick or sun block with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide (call your pediatrician if a true contact dermatitis rash develops).
- Keep babies younger than six months out of direct sunlight (use umbrellas, stroller canopies, tree shade).
- Avoid the sun between 10 am and 3 pm when UV rays are the strongest.
- Wear a hat or cap with a brim that faces forward to shield the face.
- Your child should wear well-fitting sunglasses with at least 99% UV protection.
- Dress yourself and your children in cool lightweight cotton pants in light colors with tight weave (less sun penetration).