We are searching data for your request:
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.
Children can quickly suffer the short-term and long-term damage of sunburn and heat stroke, so it's crucial to keep them safe in the sun. Sunburn can cause pain, fever, and dehydration, and getting just one blistering sunburn during childhood more than doubles the risk of melanoma (the most deadly type of skin cancer) later in life. Here’s what you can do to help keep your child safe in the sun.
How can I prevent my child from getting a sunburn?
Stay out of the sun
The surest way to prevent a sunburn is to keep your child out of the sun, especially between 10 and 4 o'clock when the sun's rays are the strongest. However, your child can also get burned at other times of day or even on cloudy, cool days. That's because it's not the heat of the sun that burns the skin but rather the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays.
UV rays can damage the skin at all times of day, all year round, even in the middle of winter. Also, the sun's rays bounce off surfaces like water, snow, cement, and sand, intensifying them.
You can't feel these when they hit your skin, but you'll see the effects later. (It can take several hours for the redness and pain of a mild first-degree burn to appear.)
Whenever your child is outdoors, it's important for him to use sunscreen. Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Look for the words "broad spectrum" on the label.
Broad spectrum means the product protects against both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are the main cause of sunburn and are thought to cause most skin cancers, while UVA rays age skin and cause wrinkles. UVA rays also play a role in some skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society.
Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before heading outdoors, and reapply it every two hours. Make sure you cover all exposed areas of your child's skin, including the tips of his ears, the back of his neck, and the tops of his feet.
If your child goes into the water, reapply sunscreen as soon as he's toweled off – even if it's been less than two hours since you applied it.
- Replace your family's sunscreen regularly. The active ingredients lose effectiveness after a while.
- Learn what type of sunscreen is best for children.
- Test your sunscreen IQ.
When outdoors, find shady places for your child to play – though shade provides only partial protection against UV rays. Without sunscreen or other protection, skin will still be exposed to some of the sun's rays.
Cover your child's arms and legs in lightweight, bright-colored or dark clothing. Light colors may keep skin cooler, but dark or vivid colors absorb more UV rays.
Fabrics with a tight weave also protect skin better than loosely woven ones. (Hold the fabric up to the light. The less light that shines through, the tighter the weave.) Washing cotton or cotton blend clothing a few times can tighten the weave and make it a little more protective against burning rays.
You can find clothing such as swimsuits and T-shirts made from fabric with sun protection built into it. These products can be a little pricey, but they might be a good investment if your child is outdoors a lot (especially if he's fair-skinned and more likely to burn). You can also research laundry products that claim to add a layer of UV protection to your clothes.
A hat is a must for sun protection, too. Choose one with flaps in the back for neck protection and a brim that's wide enough to shade the face. A brim that protects the ears is better than one that protects only in front.
Also, protect your child's eyes with a pair of UV-protective sunglasses. If your child resists, let him to pick out a pair.
Carry sunscreen with you, along with a hat and a pair of sunglasses for your child. You might also pack (or stow in the car) an extra long-sleeved shirt and pair of lightweight pants for your child to change into those times when you spontaneously stop at the park.
Have caregivers protect your child
Many daycare facilities and schools take specific precautions before outdoor playtime, such as requiring children to wear sunscreen and a protective hat. Provide sunscreen and appropriate clothing for your child to use away from home. Check with your child's caregivers and teachers to make sure they protect your child when he's playing outdoors.
How can I protect my child from the heat?
It's easy for active kids to get overheated in hot weather. Here’s what you can do to avoid heat stroke:
- Dress your child in light, loose-fitting clothing.
- Keep your child in the shade whenever possible.
- Limit outdoor play on very hot, humid days.
- Encourage frequent breaks in the shade or indoors.
- Offer plenty to drink throughout the day.
- Provide a way for your child to spray himself (with a water bottle, for example) to cool off.
- Make sure the car is cool before you go for a ride.
- If you don't have air conditioning at home, visit a public, air-conditioned place on very hot or humid days. The public library and the mall are good options. Some communities offer shelters specifically for this purpose.
For more details, read our complete article about heat stroke in children.