Do you think your children are immune to the harmful effects of the sun?
Kids are actually more susceptible. Studies show that children get about 80% of their total lifetime sun exposure by the time they turn 18 years old. Wow! And if a blistering sunburn occurs in childhood, the risk of skin cancer doubles later in life.
Some general rules for young and old alike:
- Seek shade
- Avoid outdoor activities between 10am – 3pm when possible
- Use sunscreen and lip protection
- Wear sun protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses
- Be aware of reflection from water, sand, and snow
Some special considerations:
Babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight. If they are outdoors, use an umbrella or sun protective cover over the stroller. Sunscreen products have not been tested on this age group.
Children over 6 months should always wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Look for the words “UVA & UVB” or “Broad Spectrum” on the label. I personally recommend sunscreens that are mineral based in this age group. This means they contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These ingredients sit on top of the skin, and reflect away the ultraviolet rays. If your child is at daycare or camp, ask the guardian or counselor to help with sunscreen reapplication after swimming or active play or having face washed following a messy meal.
Teenagers who work outdoors or play sports outdoors are at risk for sun damage. The basic rules of sun protection apply to this age group. It’s just hard to get them to listen! I don’t talk about the health risks of sun damage with this age group (they feel invincible, right?). I discuss the beauty risks of too much sun: brown spots, broken blood vessels, uneven skin tone, wrinkles and crinkles.