Pediatric Sun Safety Tips
Children learn at a young age that tanned skin is attractive. They learn this through their friends, classmates, and even parents who like to tan. While we all need sun exposure, it is vital that children understand why we must protect our skin from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays (UV).
Most children receive a lifetime’s worth of sun exposure before they reach 18 years of age. If a child receives just one blistering sunburn during their childhood they more than double their chance of developing melanoma later in life.
Most people know that sunburns are bad. Tanned skin is bad too. The thought that tanned skin looks healthy is actually a relatively new concept. People used to go to great lengths to protect their skin from the sun, coveting a fair complexion. The truth is, there is no such thing as a healthy tan. Skin color change of any kind is a sign of potential skin damage.
Here are some tips to help you protect your child’s skin and impart smart sun habits at a young age.
0-6 months – Sun exposure should be avoided in infants less than 6 months of age because their skin is too sensitive. Place a wide brimmed hat on children when they are outdoors and protect their sensitive skin with lightweight clothing. Sunglasses made for infants should also be considered. Getting them used to wearing a hat and sunglasses early on will help keep them protected when they are older.
6-12 months – Sun exposure can begin at this age, however it is important to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Sunscreen should always be applied 30 minutes prior to going outside and should be reapplied every 2 hours or after swimming or excessive sweating. Keep the trend of wearing a hat and sunglasses going. There are many options of clothing with ultraviolet protection, choose those with an SPF of 30 or higher.
12 months and up – Avoid sun exposure during the “burn” hours of 10am – 4pm. Hats, sunglasses and lightweight clothing that protects skin are still essential. Water-resistant sunscreen should be applied to skin whenever they will be exposed to the sun. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher should be chosen. Clothing that offers ultraviolet protection should be used. Long sleeve rash shirts are excellent options when participating in water activities.