Sun safety for kids

Summer will be here before you know it! Parents and children alike are ready to spend their days outside – swimming, playing on the beach, picnicking at the lake or just hanging out together in the yard. With so many fun outdoor activities, remember to take care of your child’s skin.

Most of us worry only about sunburn, but too much sun exposure also can put your child at risk for skin cancer and premature aging. Here are a few sun safety tips to remember:

  • Protect your child’s skin from the sun using a physical barrier, such as a hat with a wide brim or a “rash guard,” a shirt made of special fabric that can protect skin from the sun’s rays.
  • Choose a “broad spectrum” sunscreen with at least 30 SPF. Although many products may advertise a higher SPF, they do not provide much additional protection and seem to be associated with more skin rashes.
  • Look for a product containing a physical blocker, such as zinc oxide, in a cream or stick. With sprays, it’s more difficult to get good coverage and your child could inhale harmful chemicals.
  • Be sure to apply sunscreen BEFORE going outside and reapply every couple of hours or after swimming and heavy toweling. There is no such thing as a “waterproof” product.
  • Do not solely rely on being under a tent or umbrella at the beach or pool. Reflected rays off the sand or pool deck still can damage the skin.
  • Be an example for your child and protect your own skin by using sunscreen or protective layers.
  • Be mindful of heat exposure and hydration. Younger children are especially at risk for heat related illness and dehydration, so provide adequate shade and hydration on hot and humid days.

Jeff Stoeber, MD is a pediatrician with the Christie Pediatric Group. View his online profile or find another Prisma Health pediatrician near your work or home at ghschildrens.org/pediatricians. You also can call 1-844-447-3627 for help connecting with a pediatrician.

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