Kids More Susceptible to Sun Damage
All humans require some sun exposure to boost the body’s vitamin D supply and build strong, healthy bones. However, too much time in the sun can cause short-term and long-term damage, especially for children. Children are more susceptible to sunburn than adults and, on average, get three times more sun exposure than adults. Getting a bad sunburn just once every two years can triple the risk of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in children and teens.
Family Sun Safety Tips
Kids will soon be spending more time outdoors enjoying summer sports, camps and other activities. Studies show that children get around one-quarter of their lifetime sun exposure before age 18, so it is important to teach them how to safely enjoy fun in the sun. With a few simple strategies, they can enjoy all of the benefits of outdoor exercise without sacrificing their skin or their health.
- Avoid peak sun intensity. Ultraviolet radiation is most intense when the sun is highest overhead, usually between the hours of 10:00AM and 4:00PM. By avoiding exposure during these peak hours, sun exposure may be reduced by as much as 60%.
- Cover up. Shielding skin from UV rays is preferable to sunscreen. When possible, wear clothes with tightly woven material when outdoors. Plan trips to parks and places where adequate shade is available, or use portable shade structures such as umbrellas, tents and tarps.
- Use sunscreen generously. Teach children to apply and reapply sunscreen, even if they’re just playing in the yard and even on cool, cloudy days. Use sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Pay special attention to the ears, nose, cheeks and hands – the most common locations for skin cancer.
- Reapply sunscreen. Regardless of strength, all sunscreens will become ineffective without reapplication. Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after sweating or swimming.
- Don’t forget the eyes. Children should also be taught to use sunglasses to protect the eyes from UV damage. Children and teens are especially vulnerable to the sun’s rays because their eye lenses are not mature and can’t filter UV light as well as those of adults, resulting in damage to the retina.
Fostering sun safety habits early can greatly reduce your child’s chance of developing skin cancer. For treatment of sunburn, rashes and other skin conditions that commonly occur during the summertime, visit your nearest RediClinic walk-in clinic. Our walk-in clinics are open seven days a week, with no appointment needed.