Fun in the sun

Summer is the perfect time to be a kid. School’s out and adventures are waiting around every corner. However, the summer sun packs hidden dangers that have the potential to cause long-term effects. Proper skin and eye protection is key to keeping kids safe this summer and well into their future.

Sun safety tips

Kids can play safe in the sun with the right precautions. Take care of their skin and eyes with these sun safety preventive measures:

Avoid peak times. The sun is strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Try to avoid spending too much time in the sun during these hours. If your child must be outside during this time, use sunscreen and protective eyewear and seek shade when possible.

Cover up. A simple way to protect your child’s skin from harmful sun rays is to cover up when they are outdoors for an extended period of time. Barbara Schrodt, M.D., Dermatology Associates PSC, recommends parents invest in protective SPF clothing for children. According to Dr. Schrodt, plain white T-shirts do not provide the same level of protection against UV rays as specifically designed SPF clothing. She also suggests wearing a hat for additional protection.

Use sunscreen. It is the best way to protect your child from over-exposure to the summertime sun. Experts suggest using at least 30 SPF level and choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Use extra caution near water and sand, as they reflect the sunlight, which can intensify exposure.“Sunscreens greater than SPF 30 or 45 are not required, as these higher and more expensive SPFs do not provide significantly greater protection,” Dr. Schrodt said. She also recommends that parents use hypoallergenic and fragrance-free sunscreens when available.

Invest in protective eyewear. Summer sun safety also means protecting your child’s eyes from harmful sun rays. Dark or shaded lenses do not necessarily mean the sunglasses provide UV protection. Purchase eyewear with at least 100 percent UV protection. “The dangers of the sun are long term for a child’s eyes,” said John Franklin, M.D., pediatric ophthalmologist with Ophthalmology Associates PSC. “Just as sun exposure can lead to skin cancer, the eye can be affected years later with conditions such as cataract formation and macular degeneration. UV-blocking lenses are the first line of defense against sun damage.” According to Dr. Franklin, the best way to encourage your child to wear sunglasses is to set a good example by wearing protective UV lenses whenever you are outdoors.

Properly applying sunscreen

 Sunscreen is only effective when used correctly. Follow these tips to ensure your child gets the most out of sunscreen:

  • Apply 15 to 30 minutes before going outside to ensure the sunscreen has enough time to absorb into the skin.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours.
  • Reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating, even when  using waterproof sunscreen.

If your child does get a sunburn, follow these tips to help soothe the pain:

  • Give your child a cool bath or apply cool, wet cloths or compresses to cool the skin.
  • Apply pure aloe vera gel to alleviate pain.
  • Apply moisturizing cream to rehydrate the skin and help treat itching.

• If the sunburn begins to blister, see a doctor immediately.