The summer months provide sunny weather and outdoor activities for children and their families, but a harmful side effect to the outdoor fun is sun damage. It is important to protect the skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays as protection can prevent the onset of skin cancer in the future. Below are some tips to keeping outside play fun and not harmful.
The first preventative measure to take against sun damage is the use of sunscreen. No matter the brand, the sunscreen used on children should provide at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website. For the best protection, sunscreen should be applied generously half an hour prior to outdoor play. The CDC also reminds that the ears, nose, lips, and tops of the feet should not be skipped during application.
Other options for protection from the sun include seeking shade. According to the CDC, UV rays are strongest and most harmful during midday. If possible, it’s important to plan activities indoors at this time of day. If not possible, shade from a tree, umbrella, or tent should be found to prevent a sunburn from occurring and not to seek relief after a burn has already happened.
Clothing and accessories are important pieces to the skin protection puzzle as well and should be considered before outdoor activities begin. Hats, for example, have the ability to protect the face, ears, and neck if a wide brimmed hat is chosen. If a baseball cap is the hat of choice, don’t forget a healthy amount of sunscreen on the neck and ears. Sunglasses are also an important part of any summer wardrobe as they protect the eyes from UV rays. Finally, long sleeves and long pants or skirts provide the best protection from the sun. The CDC also notes that tightly woven fabrics, dry shirts, and darker colors provide more protection than wet shirts or lighter colored shirts do.
The backyard, beach, pool, or park should not be feared for the abundance of sunlight they provide. Using the preventative suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control can help in having a safe, happy, and burn-free summer.