Summer is a time for children to be outside playing with their friends or splashing around in the pool. While most parents know the hot summer sun can cause a serious sunburn for their child, few consider what additional damage they may be doing. Experts estimate that 80% of skin damage caused by the sun occurs during childhood before a person’s 18th birthday. One bad sunburn during childhood is enough to cause skin cancer down the road, and each sunburn increases these chances.
To protect your baby or toddler from the sun’s damage take precautions when outdoors:
- Babies under the age of six months should not be exposed to the sun if possible. After six months, it is okay to apply sunscreen with your doctors’ approval. Seek shade for your baby, whether it is a stroller hood or under a large tree
- Avoid the sun at peak times, generally between 10 am and 2pm when the sun’s rays are m ost powerful
- Protect your baby or toddler’s head with a wide brimmed hat or bonnet whenever outside.
- Cover baby’s arms and legeMake sure your baby’s arms and legs are covered by tighly-woven (but loose-fitting) clothing.
To protect your baby or toddler from the sun, it is important that they wear an effective sunscreen whenever they are outside. Look for a minimum of SPF 15. Most parents don’t think about their child needing sunscreen during the winter months or on rainy days. However the sun is still emitting its harmful rays, thus it’s important to protect your baby or toddler from the sun because they are at risk for developing skin cancer. Make it part of your child’s daily routine, especially if your child bathes in the morning since sunscreen absorbs best on wet skin.
To protect your baby or toddler from the sun, experts recommend that you apply sunscreen 30 minutes before taking them outside. This gives the sunscreen time to absorb and develop a layer of protection on their skin before it is forced to start working. Also make sure that you use an adequate amount of sunscreen to cover your child’s skin. This is one area in regards to sunscreen where both children and adults make mistakes since most people do not use enough sunscreen. Most children need at least half of a handful to ensure they are properly covered. If in doubt always use more. And don’t forget delicate areas like lips and ears.
It is also important that throughout their time outdoors you reapply sunscreen to ensure they remain protected. Due to their high levels of physical activity sunscreen is often rubbed off as they come in contact with other things such as the ground, playground equipment and other children. In addition it may come off with water or sweat if you don’t use a sunscreen that is resistant to these things.
While parents assume that most sunscreens on the market offer their child the protection they need the reality is that they do not. Most sunscreens available for purchase in retail and drug stores only offer protection against UVB rays, which are responsible for sunburns in children. They fail to protect against UVA rays that cause long-term skin damage such as skin cancer and premature aging. One of the best sunscreens available to protect children from the sun is Anthelios sunscreen due to the fact it contains Mexoryl, which protects against both types of harmful rays emitted by the sun.
Summer is the ideal time for a child due to long days and no school. However it is your responsibility as a parent to ensure your child is fully protected from the hot summer sun. Choosing the right sunscreen and ensuring it is used as experts recommend can prevent your child from immediate and long-term damage to their skin.