Summer is a perfect time to soak up sunshine, but too much sun exposure can be harmful and can cause skin and eye damage, immune system suppression and even skin cancer.
Follow these tips to protect your kids while they have fun in the sun:
- Even just a few serious sunburns in childhood can increase the child’s risk of developing skin cancer later in life. Teach children how to take precautions during sun exposure to reduce their chance of injury – seek shade, cover up, get a hat, wear sunglasses and apply sunscreen.
- Avoid being in the sun for prolonged times when the sun is strongest – typically mid-day from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. If kids are in the sun between these hours, be sure to apply and frequently re-apply protective sunscreen — even if they're just playing in the backyard.
- The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that all children — regardless of their skin tone — wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
- Even one day in the sun can result in a painful burned cornea (the outermost, clear membrane layer of the eye). Cumulative exposure can lead to cataracts later in life (clouding of the eye lens, which results in blindness). The best way to protect eyes is to wear sunglasses. The sunglasses should be of good quality and not simply toy sunglasses. There are now a number of good quality sunglasses manufacturers for children that meet the proper UV filter requirements. Sunglasses are extremely important even during cloudy days, on the water, or in snow activities as well.
- Wearing sunscreen and limiting your time in the sun not only reduces your risk of sun damage and premature aging, but teaches kids good sun sense. There are great new formulations and lots of ways to make applying sunscreen fun and not a chore.