Summer Skin Safety

Summer Skin Safety
Posted on 07/09/2018

sun safetySummer Skin Safety

Written by Dr. Jennifer Gerlach

Summer is here, the temperatures are rising and the sun is setting late. Here are some tips to help you and your child have a safe and fun summer.

Wearing sunscreen is important to protect your child’s skin from sunburn now, and prevent skin cancers down the line. Before you hit the pool, beach, or playground, make sure you and your children apply sunscreen and reapply often.

Start early. Children whose parents regularly apply sunscreen at an early age are more likely to continue using sunscreen as teenagers and adults.

Stay cool. The sun’s rays are the strongest from 10am to 4pm, so try to limit being in the sun during these hours by staying in the shade or indoors.

Cover up. Protective clothing can be helpful when children are outside for a long time. Look for swimwear and clothing with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating. Hats can protect the top of the head, ears, and back of the neck (if the hat has a brim). Protective clothing and hats are essential for babies younger than 4 months, since sunscreen is not recommended for this age.

Protect eyes. Sunglasses are essential and can help protect from skin cancers like melanoma which may occur inside the eye. Other eye conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration can also be related to UV exposure.

Apply early and often. Sunscreen should be applied in a thick layer (about ¼ teaspoon for a toddlers face), 30 minutes prior to heading outside and should be reapplied every 2 hrs. If children are swimming or sweating a lot, reapply sunscreen more often and use a water-resistant formulation. Reapply the sunscreen when outdoors in both sunny and cloudy weather. Sun rays still come through the clouds. For a week long beach vacation, a school-aged child should go through an entire 8oz bottle of sunscreen, applying it twice a day.

The best sunscreen is one that can be regularly applied and stay on the skin without causing irritation or other side effects; which usually depends on the child and the activity. Here are a few things to consider:
SPF:
Choose a SPF 30 or higher.
Type of sunscreen:
- Gels can be helpful for hairy body sites, but tend to cause more stinging on the face and easily come off with swimming and sweating.
- Sprays, while convenient, are hard to apply evenly and tend to be less effective.
- Lotions are the most common type of sunscreen and tends to be the easiest way to apply a thick layer on the skin.
- Use broad spectrum sunblock which protects against UVA and UVB sun rays.
- Water-resistant sunscreens can no longer be labeled as “waterproof”. Sunscreens are now labeled as water resistant for up to 40 to 80 minutes.
Type of skin:
- For babies over 4-6 months, use chemical-free sunscreens and sunblocks that rely on ingredients that are physical blockers such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These are considered safe in this age group.
- In teenagers with acne, gels and lotions are good options to provide protection without worsening acne.
Infants:
- Infants have delicate skin and are more sensitive to the effects of sun exposure and heat. Sunscreen has not been extensively tested in young babies.
- Dress your infant in a hat and long sleeves and pants, using light fabrics in warm weather.
- Use car carriers and strollers with wide sun shades.
- Make sure to keep your child well hydrated and avoid overheating. Regular feedings with breast milk or formula should provide enough liquid if you are keeping baby cool. Avoid giving babies less than 6 months any extra water.
- Keep your baby in the shade.

While enjoying the summer can mean going outdoors and getting active, it is important to keep in mind that exposures to the sun and heat can lead to serious injuries. Plan ahead, bring plenty of water and sunscreen, and have a safe and fun summer with your family!

North Scottsdale Pediatrics

  • Ironwood Office - 9827 N. 95th St. Suite 105, Scottsdale, AZ 85258 Phone: (480) 860-8488 Fax: (480) 860-8498
  • Deer Valley Office - 21807 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85255 Phone: (480) 860-8488 Fax: (480) 860-8498

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