Summertime is the time of year when everyone is enjoying long, hot summer days filled with outdoor activities like baseball games, swimming, barbecues, and more. It is also the time when the northern hemisphere is the closest to the sun, and that means extra potential for skin-damaging solar radiation.
This also provides the best opportunity to teach your child about sun protection. When anyone is outside, they need to be aware of the harmful UVA and UVB rays that tan the skin and lead to sun damage, premature aging of the skin, and bad sunburns, which can lead to skin cancer.
It’s easy to demonstrate to them your own good habits of protecting your skin, especially during the summer season. Let’s talk about the easiest and most efficient ways to protect your child’s skin this summer:
Water-Resistant Sunscreen with High SPF
First, show them how to apply – and how often to reapply – sunscreen. Explain that SPF means “sun protection factor” – so the higher the number, the better the protection.
Use a water-resistant sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 to 50 if possible. The preliminary coat of lotion should be applied 20 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun in order to give it a chance to sink into the skin. Special attention should be paid to a child’s nose, lips, and ears, as those areas get more sun than other parts of the body.
Even when your sunscreen is water-resistant, reapplication is vital as it will lose some of its protective properties after spending time in the water. Water reflects the sun’s rays, so children who are out in the water are getting a double helping of the sun’s rays – so be sure to reapply sunscreen every hour.
If you are carrying an infant to the beach, be aware that some sunscreens can irritate an infant’s skin. Therefore, be sure that the child is wearing a hat and protective but lightweight clothing, and bring an umbrella for the child and you to stay under. A baby’s skin is very sensitive to the sun.
As your child gets older, teach them about UV-blocking shirts and how they’re an excellent and easy way to protect your skin while still looking great at the beach. There are special beach clothes called “rash guards” (developed for surfers) that feature sun protection and look sleek and athletic. The bonus is that it doesn’t require reapplication like sunscreen does.
Show them that you always wear a hat when spending all day out in the sun. They may not want to wear a hat (especially when they’re around their friends), so be sure they’re wearing their SPF sunscreen.
The sun’s harmful rays are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm, so take a midday break from the sun’s rays with a cookout underneath a roofed structure. That way, the adults can grill while the children can play together in the shade to give their skin a break.
Experienced Pediatricians in Northeast Massachusetts
If you want to learn how to better care for your children’s skin, schedule an appointment with an experienced pediatrician at Children’s Health Care clinic.
Call us at (978) 465-7121 for our Newburyport location or (978) 373-6557 for our Haverhill office, or request an appointment online now, and help prepare your child for a safe, fun summer!