With summer approaching, we are often asked about sunscreen and sun exposure in children. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
•Avoid prolonged direct sun exposure in children younger than 6 months old. Whenever possible, rely on available shade to protect them when outdoors, like a tree or umbrella or canopy.
•If shade is not available, you can certainly apply small amounts of sunscreen (SPF 15 or more), even in children younger than 6 months, to exposed areas like the face or back of hands where protective clothing is unavailable. Sunscreen is better than sunburn!
•For children older than 6 months, apply sunscreen 30 minutes before exposure. Cover all exposed areas, but be careful to avoid the eyes. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours while in direct sunlight.
•When choosing a sunscreen, look for products that have broad spectrum coverage, including both UVA and UVB protection. Use products with SPF 15 or greater. Consider using sunblock with zinc oxide on sensitive areas like the nose or ears for additional protection.
•Remember that sunburn can happen on cloudy days, so don’t forget the sunscreen. UV radiation is also reflected off water, sand, and concrete, potentially increasing exposure under certain conditions.
•Be sure to use sunscreen on yourself as well. Sometimes the best teaching we can do is just setting a good example.
Having said all that, get out there this summer and have a good time. Many of our children have spent too much time indoors this winter, often watching TV and playing video games. Being outdoors on a nice day is great way to keep children active and healthy. Just be sure to take along some sunscreen and a good hat!