Safe Fun in the Summer Sun
Sun safety is very important for both children and adults. The sun can cause damage on foggy or cloudy days as well as on sunny days, and the damage builds up over the years. Your skin does not have to be sunburned to be harmed by the sun’s rays. Try to avoid being out in the sun from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
Children 6 months and younger should never be out in direct sunlight. They should be shaded under an umbrella, a canopy, a stroller shade, etc. It is recommended that children 6 months and younger wear a light colored light weight cotton long sleeve shirt, light weight cotton pants and a hat while outside. You can put a small amount of broad spectrum sunscreen (at least SPF 15 or higher) on areas that cannot be fully covered - their hands and their face.
For everyone over the age of 6 months, a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 should be worn. Broad spectrum means that the sunscreen protects against the sun’s ultraviolet A and B rays. The higher the SPF the more protection there is from the sun’s ultraviolet B rays. Sunscreen should be applied 15 to 20 minutes before going outside to give time for the skin to absorb the sunscreen. Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every 2 hours but sooner if your child is swimming or sweating. Do not forget to apply sunscreen to the ears, nose, face, backs of the legs and arms as well as the rest of the body. Rub it in well, especially around the eyes.
When sunscreen is used correctly it helps protect against sunburn and some skin cancers. It does not protect against all damage from the sun’s rays so be wise when spending time outside. It is recommended that your child dress in one light weight layer of a light colored long sleeve shirt and pants. He/she should wear a hat with at least a three inch brim or a bill facing forward to protect his/her face. Sunglasses should also be worn that have UV protection of 99 to 100%. It is important to remember to have your child drink plenty of water or if doing strenuous activity a childrens’ sports drink every 20 to 30 minutes.
If you have questions about sunscreen and safe fun in the sun, please contact your pediatrician.