Did you know...
- Just a few serious sunburns can increase your child's risk of getting skin cancer later in life?
- There's no such thing as a healthy tan? Tanned skin is damaged skin.
- Clouds don't always filter UV rays? Kids still need protection when it's cool and cloudy.
- Unprotected skin can be burned in as little as 15 minutes? What looks like pink skin under the sun can turn into a fierce burn the next day.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists 5 steps to follow in order to protect kids from the sun's harmful UV rays:
- Seek shade. Plant yourselves under a tree, umbrella, or a pop-up tent.
Be most careful at midday when the sun's rays are strongest. Consider a lunch break indoors.
- Cover up. Clothing is a great way to protect your kids' skin. Look for long-sleeved swimwear with built in UV ray protection. Or any loose, light-coloured clothing with a tight knit that won't overheat your little ones.
- Get a hat. Look for hats that shade the face, neck, and ears. Another helpful hint - get a hat with straps that tie under the chin to prevent your clever toddler from removing it and tossing it to the ground.
- Wear sunglasses. UV rays can cause cataracts. Look for sunglasses that wrap around and block both UVA and UVB rays.
- Apply sunscreen. Apply generously 30 minutes before going outdoors and don't forget to reapply often, especially after getting wet. Don't forget ears, feet, and nose! A lip balm with SPF protection can be applied to the lips.
What sunscreen is best?
The Canadian Dermatology Association recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher (broad spectrum sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays).
Experts say that lotion sunscreens are better than spray sunscreens. It's not yet known what the risks are of inhaling spray sunscreens. Take particular care when applying sunscreen to little ones.
Consumer Reports says that children and pregnant women should use a sunscreen without titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These ingredients contain nanoparticles which have been linked to reproductive and developmental effects in animal studies. Pregnant women and children should also avoid sunscreens with retinol or retinyl palmitate. These ingredients, also found in some acne medication, have been associated with birth defects.
A Special Note for Babies
A baby's skin is thinner and more at risk of sunburn compared to adults. This is true even for children born to parents with dark skin. Babies should be kept out of direct sunlight, especially between the hours of 11am and 4pm. Babies six months and older should wear sunscreen on areas not covered by clothing while being careful to avoid the eyes. It's not recommended that babies under the age of six months wear sunscreen, so it's important to keep newborns out of the sun altogether.
Sunscreen and heatstroke
Sunscreen does not prevent heatstroke. But it does prevent sunburns, which can be a contributing cause of heatstroke. Precautions you can take to avoid heatstroke include the following:
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-coloured clothing.
- Avoid sunburn
- Seek cooler or air conditioned places
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Avoid hot spots
- Spend time acclimatizing to hot weather before attempting strenuous physical activity
For More Information:
- Cancer Prevention Starts in Childhood, CDC
- Protecting Children from the Sun, CDC
- Best Sunscreen: 12 Tips For Safe And Effective Sunscreen Use, the Huffington Post
- Two good sunscreens for kids and pregnant women, Consumer Reports
- Heat exhaustion, Prevention, the Mayo Clinic