It’s that time of year again! School is out and kids are giddy with the anticipation of summer in the sunshine. Amidst the fun and relaxation, one thing is essential to remember when preparing for their outside adventures – sunscreen!
Sun protection is a necessity for people of all ages. According to the CDC, “the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes”. The CDC suggests that sunscreen should be at least SPF 15 to adequately safeguard the skin. 1
I am a personal fan of spray sunscreen due to its ease of use. However, caution should be taken when applying the spray to a young child because it easily gets in the eyes, nose, and lungs with inhalation. Therefore, it is better to avoid using the spray sunscreen on children. For babies, it is recommended that direct sun exposure is minimized. When in the sun, infants should be covered in clothing, a brimmed hat, and even sunglasses with UV protection - your baby may just be the most fashionable tot on the beach!
For first time use, sunscreen should be applied to the small exposed areas such as the hands and feet. Dr. Morgan and Mrs. Roseann advise applying a modest amount of sunscreen to a small area of exposed skin to ensure the child does not have a reaction before it is spread over a larger area. Widespread use of sunscreen for children under six months of age is not recommended. Our providers recommend that you ‘spot treat’ as previously discussed for infants in this age group. It may also be helpful to note that some companies make clothing with built-in UV protection!
The FDA advocates for the use of the “shadow rule”, which states that the strongest UV rays are present when your shadow is shorter than your actual height. Avoiding UV exposure between the hours of 2pm and 4pm is wise.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, sunscreen should be reapplied at least every 2 hours and after immersion in water.3 My recent experience over the sunny Memorial Day Weekend taught me this important lesson all over again. That extra sun protection is preferable to spending several days in agony feeling like you lay down on a hot stove!
Whether your child is on the water, in the park, or in your backyard, sun protection allows for complete enjoyment of sunshine activities. Most importantly, protecting your child’s skin from the sun aids in the prevention of future detrimental health effects, most notably cancer. Sunscreen leads to healthy skin, and health skin leads to happy children!
By Anna Stephenson