June 15, 2015

Did you know that a startling 80 percent of sun exposure happens between the ages of birth and 18? This summer, think twice before sending your child outside to play without proper sun protection so they don’t become exposed to the harmful rays.

Research has proven that even a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life. As the sun’s rays begin to get stronger throughout the summer, remember that kids don’t have to be at the pool or beach to get too much sun. Parents of children, applying sunscreen should become as second nature as buckling your child’s seatbelt.

Whether you’re in the car or swimming at the beach, your child’s skin needs protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays as often as every two hours. If you’re one to forget how often to reapply sunscreen, set an alarm on your phone to help you remember – your children’s skin will thank you.

A good rule of thumb for a family of four to abide by this summer is to plan on going through four ounces of sunscreen in roughly two days. For children, a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30-50 should be reapplied every two hours. If you use SPF 100, you have the option of reapplying every three to four hours. However, sunscreen needs to be reapplied after being in water or sweating. It’s recommended that children wait 15 minutes after having sunscreen reapplied to enter water. Don’t forget that lips can burn, too, so try and keep an SPF ChapStick on hand. Remember to slather on sunscreen before hopping in the car, as the sun’s strong rays can make their way through vehicle windows, causing sun damage just by driving down the road.

The best way to protect yourself and your family is to consistently reapply sunscreen, but there are other methods of protection; wearing a hat with a brim, UV protective or light cotton clothing and sitting in the shade will also work to guard skin.

From sunburns to open blisters, dermatologists have seen the harmful effects sun exposure can have on children. Once you have blister, it’s that much easier to get a sun burn, which puts even the youngest of children at risk for skin cancer in the future. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are skin cancers that can develop in middle age and later in life, but can appear as early as the teenage years.

After years of exposure, the built-up sun damage appears as wrinkles and age spots, which may lead to skin cancer. Additionally, sun exposure can leave you with more lines and less skin elasticity when you get older. On top of that, sun exposure may also leave you looking older than you may want.

The best thing parents can do for their family is begin sun protection in infancy and continue through life. It’s as easy as remembering your “ABCs:”

A – Away: stay away from the sun in the middle of the day

B – Block: block the sun with protective clothing, seek shade, apply a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that provides broad-spectrum protection from UV rays to all exposed skin

C – Cover up: put on clothing, such as a T-shirt, swim shirt, long-sleeved shirts, pants, hats and sunglasses whenever possible.

S – Speak out: talk to family and friends about sun protection. Seek shade whenever possible.