Teaching Your Child About Sun Safety

Jun 21, 2017

Parents can teach their children many things, such as how to read a book or tie their own shoes. They can also be great role models so kids will learn to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and always buckle up in the car. Another important lesson that parents can educate children about is the importance of sun safety.

All children, regardless of skin color, need to be sun smart, but some need to take extra precautions, including those who have fair skin, spend a lot of time outside, have a family history of skin cancer or have certain diseases such as lupus.

Everyone needs some sun exposure because the body produces vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun. Vitamin D is important for maintaining stronger, healthier bones. However, too much sun exposure can lead to premature aging of the skin, cataracts, a weakened immune system and skin cancer. Since an estimated 80 percent of a person’s lifetime sun exposure does occur before the age of 18, it is important to teach children how to protect their skin for the future.

In just a few quick lessons children can learn good sun sense. Here’s how:

Lesson 1:
Apply plenty of waterproof or water resistant sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside and then again every two hours. Make sure it is broad spectrum (protects against both ultraviolet (UV) A and UVB rays) and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the ears, nose, lips and tops of feet.

Lesson 2:
Cover up with protective clothing, such as a long-sleeve shirt, pants and a hat that shades the face, scalp, ears and neck.

Lesson 3:
Have children wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from UV rays. Choose sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays as possible. Encourage kids to wear sunglasses by wearing them yourself, and let your child pick out a fun style they like.

Lesson 4:
Try to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when rays are strongest. If children want to be outside, encourage them to seek shade when possible under a tree, umbrella or tent. Don’t forget that children can still get sunburn even if they are in the water or it is a cloudy day.

If your child does get sunburn, have them take a cool bath to alleviate heat and an anti-inflammatory medication to lessen pain. To relieve additional discomfort, apply a topical moisturizing cream to re-hydrate the skin and treat itching. For more information about sun safety, talk with your doctor.

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