Although adequate sun protection is crucial no matter our age, it is especially important to keep children and young adults protected from the sun’s harsh rays.
Skin damage and the risk of skin cancer caused by the sun accumulate over time, with the most damage occurring at a young age. A study published by PubMed Central (PMC) found that approximately half of the damage your skin receives from UV radiation occurs before the age of 20. Receiving five or more blistering sunburns before the age of 20 has also been shown to increase the risk of melanoma by 80%.
Just a few sunburns early in a child’s life can lead to serious damage and cancer further down the road. Follow these sun-safe tips to keep your little one protected from harsh UV rays.
Use UPF 50+ clothing to keep your child safe in the sun.
Despite what many believe, average everyday clothing typically has a very low UPF rating and often provides only minimal sun protection. The average cotton t-shirt has a UPF rating of 7 when dry and 3 when wet. A fabric must be rated at least UPF 30 to adequately protect skin from the sun and qualify for The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation. It is recommended that clothing with UPF 50+ rating be used whenever out under the sun. This is especially true for children and young adults.
Seek shade and avoid peek UV index hours.
The best way to protect your child from the sun’s harsh rays is to keep them out of the sun as much as possible. Seek shade when outdoors and avoid prolonged periods out under the sun between 10am and 4pm, when UV radiation is at its peak.
Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen early and often.
It is highly recommended that you use only FDA approved sunscreen and check the expiration date on your sunscreen to assure it can still provide adequate protection. It is also crucial to apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before heading into the sun and to reapply often, especially if swimming or being highly active.
Seek medical attention for severe burns.
A sunburn on a child is never “just a sunburn”. If your child happens to experience a severe sunburn, it is recommended that you contact your pediatrician to assess what steps to take. If your child is under the age of 1 and experiences a burn, seek medical attention immediately. Young children have extremely sensitive skin which is much more prone to develop long term damage even after just one burn.