According to a national poll published earlier this month, U.S. parents are doing a decent job of protecting their kids from the sun. There are some misconceptions that are keeping them from doing even better.
The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health surveyed 1100 parents of children ages 5-12 about sun protection strategies for their kids. The poll found some great practices.
- 9 out of 10 parents have their kids use sunscreen.
- 7 out of 10 parents require their kids to wear a hat.
- 2 out of 3 parents put their kids in long sleeves.
While this is all great news, there are areas for improvement. If we can overcome just four misbeliefs, sun damage in America’s youth will become virtually nonexistent.
Clouds Don’t Provide Sun Protection
80% of the UV rays make it through the clouds on overcast days. That is a lot.
Nearly half of parents surveyed take cloud cover into consideration when planning sun protection.
Make sure your kids follow sun-safe practices even on cloudy days.
Follow the UV Index, Not the Thermometer
Sun damage comes from UV levels, not heat. The hottest times of the day don’t necessarily have the highest levels of UV radiation.
57% of parents said they take how hot it will be into consideration.
UV levels tend to be highest between 10am and 4pm. Avoid sun exposure for your kids during this time whenever possible.
Many weather apps include UV forecasts for even more precise planning of play dates.
No One Is Exempt
People with darker skin do have some natural sun protection by way of melanin. That protection only goes so far.
62% of parents take complexion into consideration for sun protection. 54% said that complexion influences their choice of SPF.
Lower risk is still risk. Kids with darker complexions still need to follow good sun protection practices.
Sunscreen Is Not “One-and-Done”
Sunscreen stops protecting around 2 hours after it is applied. When water and sweat is involved, that time can drop to 40 minutes. Towel drying can make it even shorter.
81% of parents knew to reapply after swimming. If swimming isn’t involved, only half of parents reapply sunscreen. A dismal 25% reapply on cloudy days.
Reapply sunscreen on your children at least every 2 hours. In reality, it should be more frequent than that.
Overcoming these misconceptions could help equip the next generation with the tools they need to avoid sun damage in their lifetime.