Seasonal Safety Tips
With summer around the corner and warmer temperatures already here, we would like to share some tips about exposure to the sun. Especially at altitude, the sun’s rays shine through the thin air and cloud cover easier. The sun’s rays are also strongest in the summertime.
Everyone needs some sun exposure, since it is our primary source of Vitamin D. However, it is now well known that exposure to sun puts people at risk for skin cancer and premature aging and that most of that exposure comes during childhood (80% of a person’s lifetime sun exposure occurs before they are 21). Regular use of sunscreen in children can lower their risk of skin cancer by almost 78%.
There are many sunscreens available for safe use in children over six months old. Pick one that offers UVA and UVB protection and that has a SPF of 15 or higher (especially if your child has light skin). Apply the sunscreen in a thick coat at least 30-45 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours (or more often in he is swimming or perspiring heavily).
Tips to Protect Your Child From the Sun
- Consider using a sunscreen with ingredients (such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) that physically block the sun’s radiation if your child has sensitive skin. Some sunscreen products, labeled “broad spectrum”, protect against two types of radiation: UVA and UVB. Scientists now believe that both UVA and UVB can damage the skin and lead to skin cancer.
- Deet lowers the effectiveness of sunscreens, so use a higher SPF if you are using a combination product that has both a sunscreen and an insect repellent.
- Limit exposure to the sun when it is at its strongest (10am-4pm). Avoid the sun when the UV Index is high in your area.
- Protect your child’s eyes with sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB radiation.
- Sunscreens should not be used on babies younger than six months because their bodies may not be developed enough to handle sunscreen chemicals. Instead, use hats, clothing and shading to protect young babies from the sun. Check with your pediatrician if you think your baby may need a sunscreen.
- Use sunscreen daily, even if it is cloudy, since most of the sun’s radiation penetrates clouds and can still cause sunburn. Don’t be fooled by cloudy skies, which block only as much as 20% of UV radiation.
- Wear protective clothing, including a hat and long sleeve shirt and long pants. Keep in mind that most clothing only has a SPF of 5-9, so you can still get sun damage with a shirt on.