Everybody loves summertime activities with the kids splashing in the pool, outdoor adventures and maybe some time at the beach or the lake. Beware, though: Even a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s risk of getting skin cancer later on, according to the U.S. the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To keep your child’s delicate skin safe from the sun’s harmful rays, check out the following tips:
The alphabet soup of sun exposure
Sunlight is made up of three kinds of ultraviolet rays: UVA, UVB and UVC.
UVA rays cause the skin to age and can lead to skin cancer; they pass through the ozone layer and are responsible for most of our sun exposure.
UVB rays are also nasty and can cause sunburn and skin cancer.
UVC are the most dangerous but fortunately, they are blocked by the ozone layer so they don’t reach our skin.
Another common abbreviation you hear in summer is SPF, which stands for sun protection factor. This is the theoretical amount of time you can be in the sun before you get a sunburn. For example, when you buy a sunscreen with an SPF of 25, it means you should be able to stay in the sun for 25 times longer than you would without any sunblock.
Stay in the shade
Because UV rays are the strongest between 10 a.m and 4 p.m., either stay indoors during this time or play in the shade. If your kids do go outside during this time, be sure to apply sunscreen about 30 minutes prior to heading out; sunscreen does not start working the instant you apply it to skin. Because UV rays still get through the clouds and damage skin on overcast days, make it a rule that if your kids are outside, they will wear sunscreen. If they are swimming or sweating a lot, reapply it.
A great way to protect your kids skin is to keep them as covered as possible. Granted, this can be difficult to do when they are swimming, but if they are busy building a fort or playing tag, make sure their clothing will protect them from the sun. To do this, put your hand inside the shirt or shorts; if you can’t see your hand through the fabric, it should block out a good amount of the sunlight.
Protect their eyes
Being in the sun can also damage your child’s eyes. To protect them from short and long-term damage like burned corneas and cataracts, make sure they wear sunglasses. Because kids sunglasses are not created equally, read the label and be sure to buy shades that offer 100 percent UV protection. If your child’s sunglasses are made of dark plastic, you can replace the lenses; for example, Revant Optics sells a wide range of colorful replacement lenses that block 100 percent of UV rays.