It’s spring, or at least it is starting to feel like it! With this, comes children playing outside more and many families traveling over Spring Break to places much warmer and sunnier than Madison this time of year. Some of us are more prone to sunburns than others, but all skin types need to take steps to prevent damage from the sun. UV rays can damage the skin and eyes and result in skin cancer that can be deadly. For many that develop skin cancer, the sun damage occurred in childhood.
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 to protect the face and sunglasses with UV protection (at least 99%) for the eyes is a good idea
- Remember that UV rays can bounce off water, sand, snow and concrete
- 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 everything else, kids learn best from their parents’ example.
- For any new type of sunscreen, test on a small area to test for an allergic reaction. Apply carefully around the eyes, avoiding eyelids.
- Okay to use on anyone over 6 months. If sun exposure is unavoidable for babies under 6 months, it is okay to use sunscreen on sun exposed areas. (I recommend giving the baby a bath when you get back inside to decrease possible skin irritation.)
- Want at least sun protection factor (SPF) of 15
- Want “broad-spectrum” so that it screens out both UVA and UVB rays
- 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 2 hours while in the sun.
- Sunblocks with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are great for sensitive areas like 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 an older child develops blistering, pain or fever with sunburns.
The above recommendations were adapted from the American Academy of Pediatrics “Spring Break Safety Tips” at http://www.healthychildren.org/ and “Fun in the Sun: Keep Your Family Safe” handout.