As spring break approaches, many families are itching to go someplace warm and sunny or to just spend some time outdoors. Remember that increased exposure to direct sunlight does not only mean protecting one’s skin and taking measures to prevent heatstroke and dehydration, but also protecting one’s eyes. Below are some tips on sun safety for babies, children and families from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Sun Safety for Babies
- Keep infants six months or younger away from direct sunlight. Stay in the shade or make sure your stroller has a canopy.
- If it is impossible to avoid direct sunlight and your child is less than six months old, you can apply sunscreen. Bear in mind that most sunscreens take at least 15 minutes to work.
- Dress your baby in loose, lightweight clothing, making sure that the arms and legs are covered, and use a wide-brimmed hat.
Sun Safety for Children
- Use a sunscreen that is designed for kids (a waterproof one is best).
- Test the sunscreen on your child’s back first, to test for an allergic reaction.
- If your child develops a rash, talk to a health care professional or a qualified pharmacist.
- Avoid the eyes and eyelids.
- Make sure your children wear sunglasses with UV protection.
- If a child gets sunburned, check with a qualified health care professional.
Sun Safety for the Family
- Avoid the midday sun – try to stay in the shade when the sun’s rays are most likely to burn.
- Some white surfaces can reflect UV rays, such as sand, concrete or snow. Make sure you are wearing sunglasses and bear this in mind when timing skin exposure to sunlight.
- It is a myth to believe that you cannot get sunburn on a cloudy day. . . you can! Add sunscreen to your skin even when it is cloudy.
- What does broad spectrum sunscreen mean? – it means that it will block both UVA (ultraviolet A) rays and UVB (ultraviolet B) rays. They are better for skin protection.
- Apply sunscreen every two hours, and immediately after swimming. Choose a water-resistant or waterproof brand.
- Zinc Oxide is available in lotions, creams and ointments to protect against sunburn and other skin damage caused by ultraviolet light. It is the broadest FDA approved UVA and UVB reflector. It is not absorbed into the skin, so is non-irritating, non-allergenic and non-comedogenic (does not cause acne). Zinc oxide can be used as extra protection on the tops of ears, shoulders, cheeks and nose.
- Use a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or more.
- Apply to all exposed areas – the sunscreen should be applied to all areas of exposed skin, especially the hands, feet, ears, nose, and face.
- When to apply the sunscreen – apply the sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you go out. It needs time to start working. Some people say you should wait 30 minutes.
Just one blistering sunburn can increase one’s risk of skin cancer. Remember why you have the sunscreen – sunscreen is designed to protect you from the damaging effects of sunlight on your skin, and not a reason to remain in the sun for longer.
Information used from Medical News Today