As you prepare to play outside this summer, even on cloudy days, be proactive about preventing sunburns by following these tips:
Use sunscreen as directed. Use a sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher that provides broad-spectrum coverage on children six months of age and older. A broad-spectrum sunscreen will help protect children from ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B sunrays. Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before heading outdoors and reapply it throughout the day, as directed. If you’ll be in or near the water, consider using waterproof sunscreen. Using a lip balm with a minimum SPF of 15 and a sunscreen stick to apply sunscreen to the face can increase protection. Each year, the Environmental Working Group issues a sunscreen safety guide that ranks sunscreens and from best to worst. Check this guide to see how your favorite children’s sunscreen measures up.
Dress children in clothing with a UPF rating. Many children’s swim suits and summer clothing carry a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating. This rating, between 15 and 50, tells how effective the fabric is in protecting the skin from ultraviolet rays. A fabric with a 50 UPF rating will only allow 1/50th of available ultraviolet radiation to pass through it. OneStepAhead has a large selection of UPF clothing for kids.
Avoid peak hours in the sun. From about 10 am until 4 pm, the sun is at its strongest. Avoid prolonged time in the sun during those hours. If you plan on spending the day at the beach, bring an umbrella or tent to offer shade and protection from the sun. If you’re at an amusement park, be sure to take frequent indoor breaks.
Insist that children wear a hat and sunglasses. Wide brimmed hats with neck flaps can help shield children from the sun. Hats with a 4 inch brim can effectively cover a child’s scalp, neck, and face. Sunglasses with UV ray protection can also help protect a child’s eyes and reduce her risk of developing cataracts. BabyBanz has a complete line of protective eyewear for children.
Keep the kids covered up. Dress your child in loose-fitting long sleeves and long pants before heading outside. Fabrics with a tight weave will reduce sun exposure and help to prevent sunburn. When swimming, consider a full length rash guard to offer added sun protection. Keeping babies covered up is especially important, since sunscreen should not be applied to children under the age of 6 months, according to KidsHealth.
Check medications. Some medications can increase a skin’s sensitivity to ultraviolet rays. If your child is on medication, check with the doctor or pharmacist to see if the medication will increase your child’s sensitivity to ultraviolet rays. If it can, you may wish to limit sun exposure and ensure your child is properly protected before playing outside.
While sunburns are never pleasant, especially for children, they are avoidable. The more proactive you are about preventing sunburns, the less likely it is that your child will have one.