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Sunburn Safety Tips for Kids

July 31st, 2018

It can be easy to sit back and enjoy some summer fun but it's important to remember to protect your little ones when they're playing outside.  

Kids don’t have to be at the pool, beach, or on vacation to get too much sun. Their skin needs protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever they’re outdoors. Chairman of the Pediatric Department at Good Samaritan, Catherine Caronia, MD, offers these five tips to keep your loved ones safe when they're playing outside:

  • Seek shade UV rays are strongest and most harmful during midday, so it’s best to plan indoor activities then. If this is not possible, seek shade under a tree, an umbrella, or a pop-up tent. Use these options to prevent sunburn, not to seek relief after it’s happened.
  • Cover up When possible, long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts can provide protection from UV rays. Clothes made from tightly woven fabric offer the best protection. A wet T-shirt offers much less UV protection than a dry one, and darker colors may offer more protection than lighter colors. Some clothing certified under international standards comes with information on its ultraviolet protection factor.
  • Get a hat Hats that shade the face, scalp, ears, and neck are easy to use and give great protection. Baseball caps are popular among kids, but they don’t protect their ears and neck. If your child chooses a cap, be sure to protect exposed areas with sunscreen.
  • Wear sunglasses They protect your child’s eyes from UV rays, which can lead to cataracts later in life. Look for sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
  • Apply sunscreen Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection every time your child goes outside. For the best protection, apply sunscreen generously 30 minutes before going outdoors. Don’t forget to protect ears, noses, lips, and the tops of feet.

According to Dr. Caronia, sunscreen is the biggest aid in keeping your kids safe in the summer.  She encourages parents to take sunscreen with them to reapply during the day, especially after their child swims or exercises. This applies to waterproof and water-resistant products as well.

"It's important to remember, sunscreen is not meant to allow kids to spend more time than they would otherwise," she notes.  "If you and your kids want to be outside for prolonged times, try combining sunscreen with other options to prevent UV damage."

She also recommends following the directions on the package for using a sunscreen product on babies less than 6 months old. All products do not have the same ingredients; if your or your child’s skin reacts badly to one product, try another one or call a doctor. Your baby’s best defense against sunburn is avoiding the sun or staying in the shade.


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