Protect Your Family From the Sun

By: Dr. Dana Johnson, pediatrician at Meriter McKee Clinic

Sun Protection Tips

  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Try to avoid prolonged sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
  • A cap with a bill can protect the face and sunglasses with UV protection (at least 99%) protect the eyes from the sun’s rays.
  • Remember that UV rays can bounce off water, sand, snow and concrete.
  • UVA and UVB rays can come through clouds so sunscreen is needed even on cloudy days.
  • It is best to keep babies under 6 months out of the sun by staying in the shade of a tree, umbrella, etc.
  • Set a good example, like with everything else, kids learn best from their parent’s example.

Sunscreen Basics

  • For any new type of sunscreen, apply to a small area first to test for an allergic reaction. Apply carefully around the eyes, avoiding eyelids.
  • It is best to use water resistant or waterproof sunscreens.
  • Use at least sun protection factor (SPF) of 15.
  • Use “broad-spectrum” so that it screens out both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Sunscreen should be used on anyone over 6 months.
  • If sun exposure is unavoidable for babies under 6 months, it is OK to use sunscreen on sun exposed areas. I recommend giving the baby a bath when you get back inside to decrease possible skin irritation.
  • Use a generous amount of sunscreen on all sun-exposed skin and rub it in well. Apply at least 30 minutes prior to going outdoors, after getting wet, and every two hours while in the sun.
  • Sunblock with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are great for sensitive areas such as the nose, cheeks, ears and shoulders. They often stay visible even when being rubbed in, so some come in fun colors.
  • Applying sunscreen is protection – not a reason to stay in the sun longer.
  • Contact a doctor if a baby under 1 year develops a sunburn or if an older child develops blistering, pain or fever with sunburns.

Article posted in the Wisconsin State Journal on April 5, 2012

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