Living in Southern California, we are exposed to sunshine nearly year-round.
The warm weather makes it ideal for enjoying outdoor activities, but don’t
forget to slather on the sunscreen to protect you and your family against
damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Prevention against sun damage should really begin at birth. The
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping babies under the age of 6 months out of the sun altogether.
Dress your baby in protective clothing, such as lightweight long-sleeved,
tight-weaved shirts and pants, wide brimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses,
to limit sun exposure and keep them in shaded areas especially during
the peak intensity hours of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
With older children, you should still be mindful of sun exposure taking
similar precautions to cover their skin, but you can also add in sunscreen
as an extra layer of protection.
When selecting a sunscreen for your family, choose one that blocks both
UVA and UVB rays, has an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15+, and comes
with the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation on the
bottle. If you are looking for an all-natural option, choose a sunscreen
that contains a mineral blocker like zinc oxide.
Another important lesson is to use the correct amount of sunscreen -- and
reapply generously. Most individuals are only using about a fourth of
the recommended amount. A good 20 minutes before going out into the sun
use approximately 1-ounce of sunscreen all over your body - and don’t
forget the ears, lips and scalp, which can sometimes be forgotten! Reapply
it every two hours, or more often if you are swimming or sweating.
Even if your teen insists on getting a great tan this summer, remind them
that no one is too young to take precautions against skin cancer. There’s
a direct correlation between the more blistering sunburns you experience
and an increased risk of cancer later in life. Being tan does not mean
Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, is on the rise in both
adults and children. A 2013 study published in the journal
Pediatrics suggested that diagnoses are rising among teenagers by as much as 2% each
year. Especially if you have the risk factors of melanoma, such as family
history, blonde or red hair, and blue or green eyes, it’s crucial
that you take the precautions to protect your skin.
Even if you are doing your best to practice sun safety, the occasional
sunburn is virtually unavoidable. To care for your skin, apply a cool
compress to the affected area and assess the sunburn six hours after exposure.
If the burn blisters or is accompanied by fever or chills, call your pediatrician.
Whether your family is headed to the beach or playing in the backyard,
be sure to keep sun safety at the top of your mind this summer.