Every day, you protect your kids from potential dangers. You teach them to look both ways before crossing the street, to cover their mouths when they cough, to chew their food completely. Teaching them healthy sun habits early on will help in the long run to prevent skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the U.S.
Because kids and the outdoors go together like peanut butter and jelly, here are some tips on preventing sunburns without preventing fun:.
Although all kids need to be protected from the sun, those with fair complexions burn the easiest and are at the greatest risk for developing skin cancer later in life. Dress them in protective clothing made from material that breathes but isn’t see-through. Long sleeves and pants are best, whenever possible. A wide-brimmed or billed hat and sunglasses that offer protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays are sunny day essentials. Throw a backup in your bag, just in case.
Note: You should not use sunblock on babies under six months, so keep them out of the sun completely and cover them up as much as possible. Use an umbrella or a pop-up tent as a portable source of shade.
Block the Sun, Not the Fun
Apply a 30+ SPF sunblock a good half hour before letting your kids loose in the sun. Consider using a waterproof sunblock—waterproof sunblock is also sweat-proof sunblock. Even if they won’t be directly in water, chances are they’ll work up a sweat.
Cover Sensitive Areas
Kids move—and so does their clothing. Be sure to lotion underneath bathing suit straps and below swimming trunk waistbands. These areas are least often exposed to sun and therefore the most sensitive and likely to burn.
Add Some Color
Make lotioning up fun, not a chore: try colored sunblock for fussier kids. They can draw on themselves with their favorite colors! And you’ll know they’ve rubbed it all in when the colored lotion can no longer be seen.
Reapply! Have the kids take a break in the shade every two hours or after swimming to grab a refreshing snack and apply more sunscreen. The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mid-day is the perfect time for an extended rest from the day’s strongest rays. Have a picnic or encourage a nap in the shade.
Beware the Invisiburn
Just because you can’t see the sun, that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Even in cloudy weather, it is still going strong. Your kids may not feel like they’re getting burned, but on overcast days, UV rays reflect off sand, water, and concrete. Make sure to apply sunblock as you would on sunny days. Use a light facial moisturizer with SPF to soothe dry, chapped skin in winter months.
Sometimes the sun proves too strong for even the most diligent caretaker. If your child suffers sunburn, it’s not too late—there are still steps you can take to limit the damage and relieve the pain.
- Have them soak in a cool bath, or apply wet compresses that will alleviate the feeling of heat.
- Apply aloe vera gel to the affected areas for additional cooling. Aloe vera gel, which is derived from a succulent plant of the same name, combined with lidocaine will relieve any itching and inflammation.
- Additionally, an anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, can help to lessen the pain and itching.
- Finally, use lotion or cortisone cream to rehydrate the skin and prevent icky peeling.
Remember, the best way to introduce your kids to healthy sun habits and to enjoy a sunburn-less summer is to practice protection yourself!