After an unpredictable winter that far outstayed its welcome, it is finally sweet summertime. While this change in season brings a great deal of joy, adventure and excitement, it also brings a number of dangers especially centered around the harmful UV rays from the sun. These dangers are no reason to miss out on summer fun; however, they are important sun safety factors that parents and babysitters should be well aware of. Stay safe this summer with these simple tips before you head out in the sun.
Shield the Sun!
Don’t let fun in the sun cause excruciating pain or permanent damage to your children’s skin. The easiest way to do this while still enjoying the summer is with sunscreen. When selecting a sunscreen to slather on your kids, be sure to use an option with at least 30 SPF. Further, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects from both harmful UVA and UVB rays. If your baby is 6 months old or younger, do not use sunscreen and simply keep your child out of the sun’s harmful rays as much as possible.
The key to applying sunscreen is doing it evenly and often. These are two of the biggest mistakes that plague parents everywhere. Even application is key! With growing popularity of spray-on sunscreens, it is important to remember that simply spraying is not enough. Many experts believe the lotions offer better coverage because it’s easier to see where it’s being applied to the skin. In order to get the best coverage and protection, it is important to rub both spray on sunscreen and lotions into the skin. Following the first application, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours. This is one of the most common mistakes when it comes to sun protection. Parents and kids get caught up in the fun of the day, forget to reapply then are in for a not-so-fun surprise a few hours later. Always remember to apply evenly and often.
Sunscreen is not the only form of protection against the sun. Clothing is another wonderful option to protect loved ones from overexposure to the sun. This is the best option for infants because of their continually developing skin that is more susceptible to sunburns. Clothing is thick enough to protect from the sun as long as you cannot see through it. Hats are another fantastic way of protecting faces from the sun. Today, many clothing manufacturers also make clothes that are UPF rated and offer wonderful sun protection.
Skin is not the only part of our bodies that can be severely damaged by the sun. Eyes are just as susceptible to sun damage as skin, but the affects cannot be seen immediately like a sunburn. Make sure the kids are sporting sunglasses as they have fun in the sun. A fun bonus is that they will want to wear their sunglasses if they get to pick out their favorite pair at the store. Kid’s sunglasses are affordable and come in countless colors and styles. If the little ones lose their sunglasses, they’ll be cheap and easy to replace. Add a hat to their outfit when playing outside and it enhances their protection!
Timing also plays a role in preventing sun damage. When planning a day of fun in the sun, the American Skin Association states to try and avoid the window between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. This is the time when the sun’s rays are the strongest. We understand that is a large chunk of the day and recommend planning to overlap at the beginning or end of that window. Ideally, plan to avoid being outdoors for the full six-hour window in full sun. This is an added bonus because 10am-4pm is typically the hottest time of day. Look at this period as a time to cool off and relax indoors and possibly put the toddlers down for a nap.
It’s inevitable that sunburns will happen, but what is the best way to treat them? Unfortunately, there is no cure to the pain. Cool baths, aloe vera gel, ibuprofen, and moisturizing cream can all lessen the pain and aid in the healing process. Please give us a call if you have a concern about your child’s recent over-exposure to the sun and we can help with a treatment plan to make the healing process go smoothly.
Refer to these helpful tips and have a wonderful, safe summer in the sun! If you have further questions about summertime and sun safety, please give Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow a call at 618-235-2311. Association of Childcare Physicians also offers online appointment scheduling for your convenience.