Summer Sun Safety
By Tina H. Boylston, M.D.
1) Do not rely solely on sunscreen to protect your child’s skin.
2) Children younger than 6 months should NOT be in direct sunlight. Keep them under a canopy or UV sun shield/tent and not outside during the sun’s peak hours especially from 10 am to 4 pm.
3) Wear protective clothing when possible. Loose clothing with a tight weave that blocks sunlight or UV rated swimwear is a great option.
4) Wear hats with wide brims to shield your face and neck.
5) Limit time spent in the sun mid day when the sun peaks especially from 10 am to 4 pm.
6) Wear sunglasses with a minimum of 99% UV protection. They do make these in kid sizes, but they can be hard to find.
7) Wear sunscreen. See below for details.
1) Use a “broad-spectrum” sunscreen that protects against both UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) light both of which can cause skin cancer, skin damage and premature aging.
2) Your sunscreen should have a minimum of a SPF (sun protection factor) 15. SPF denotes the level of protection against UVB light. UVB light is primarily responsible for sunburns.
3) Your sunscreen should have UVA light protection. UVA light is deep penetrating and is the light responsible for tanning. There has been a movement by the FDA to denote the amount of UVA protection in sunscreen via a star rating system. As of April 2011 sunscreen manufacturers have still not included this on their product labels.
4) For sensitive areas like your child’s face, use a “blocking” product that contains zinc or titanium dioxide. These are often opaque white, but many companies are now making a clear version.
1) Make sure your child is not allergic to new sunscreen by applying the new product to a small area prior to his/her first full day out in the sun.
2) Apply liberally all over your child’s body. Do not miss his/her ears, face, neck, backs of knees, hands etc
3) Rub it in well.
4) Apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to going outside.
5) Reapply sunscreen a minimum of every 2 hours and more frequently (every hour) if swimming or sweating.
Resources: What’s the best way to protect my child in the sun? www.healthychildren.org