The Rules of Sun Engagement: Keeping Your Kids Protected Against Skin Cancer
Summer is finally here, and so are long, sunny days, trips to the beach, and lots and lots of time outside. And this is any parent’s dream. And while we want to encourage our kids to spend as much time outdoors as possible, it is critical to their health to be lathered up in sunscreen first.
Every year, an increasing number of children are diagnosed with pediatric skin cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, about 500 children are diagnosed each year with pediatric melanoma, the most severe form of skin cancer for people of any age. And while that number may seem relatively low, it’s a number that’s been growing by about 2 percent a year.
Here are ten sun engagement rules to keep our families as safe and healthy as possible and free from skin cancer.
- Sunscreen should be used regardless of skin color. Skin cancer does not discriminate; you don’t have to get a sunburn to be adversely affected by the sun’s harmful rays. Lead by example and teach kids early on the importance of sun protection. And if your child is a teen, perhaps sharing that the sun ages the skin will be enough to help them make sunscreen part of their grooming routine.
- Limit your sunscreen ingredients. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Avoid sunscreens made with oxybenzone, which can impact hormone production. Our favorites are zinc or titanium dioxide. Some sunscreens can come in different colors, which can be fun for young kids.
- Keep babies under six months of age out of direct sunlight. Choose a shady spot or use an umbrella to protect their sensitive skin.
- Limit sun exposure between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm, which is when the sun is the strongest.
- Don’t rely on sunscreen alone. Clothing that covers the skin is more protective than sunscreen. Therefore, we encourage families to wear sun shirts outside for extended periods, especially at the lake or beach.
- Wear a hat, preferably with a 3” brim that wraps around the entire hat. Hats protect the sensitive skin of the face, ears, and shoulders.
- The sun can harm the eyes, so always wear sunglasses. Choose sunglasses with 99% UV protection. There are some excellent options for babies and toddlers, with bands that wrap around their heads, so they stay on!
- Apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going outside. Cover all exposed areas and pay extra attention to the face, ears, nose, feet, hands, and hands. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen under their bathing suit. Teach teens to apply sunscreen when they apply their makeup.
- Limit sunscreen on babies under six months to small areas on their body (face) and only use it if the shade is unavailable.
- Stay hydrated. The sun zaps the moisture in the skin. Replenish it by ensuring your family stays hydrated. This is especially important if anyone in your home gets a sunburn.
We encourage you to spend as much time as possible outside this summer. Stay safe from skin cancer and sun damage by protecting your skin and that of your family. If your child gets a sunburn, ensure they drink fluids to replenish what they’ve lost. You can also give them pain relievers to relieve the sting of a sunburn. For babies under six months of age, choose acetaminophen. Children older than six months of age can have either acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
If your child gets sunburn and is under one year old, please contact us immediately. Likewise, contact us if your child is older than one gets sunburn that blisters, is painful, or causes a fever.