Whether you are taking your kids to the park or running errands, keeping them protected against too much sun exposure is critical. Sunburns on young children can affect their skin health for the rest of their lives.
While many parents believe the scorching summer sun is the most dangerous, children can become sunburned any time of the year. In fact, fall and spring are riskier for sunburns because the sun is lower in the sky.
The more sunburns kids experience during youth, the greater their chances of developing skin cancer later in life. Keeping your children sun safe is not as challenging as you may believe.
Sun Safety Tips for Kids
Your children are vulnerable in many ways to the sun’s heat and ultraviolet radiation (UV) rays. We want to equip you with safety tips that will keep your kids safe during the summer heat and all year long.
Use Sunscreen to Prevent Sunburns from Excessive Sun Exposure
Sunburns are not only painful, but they can also be damaging and cause skin cancer. Frequent sunburns lead to skin damage. UV radiation exposure may lead to skin lesions, hyperpigmentation, leathery skin, skin cancer, and premature aging later in life.
Protecting your children from sunburns is essential. Consider the following tips to help shield your kids from painful and damaging sunburns.
- Limit sun exposure during peak hours and always seek shade.
- Use enough sunscreen on exposed areas of skin for children over six months to prevent sunburn.
- Dress your children in lightweight, sun-protective clothing that covers their bodies well.
- Use sun shades to cover your baby’s head in the stroller or car seat.
- Have your child wear wide-brimmed hats to protect skin during outdoor activities.
Understand the Meaning of Sun Protection Factor and Skin Cancer
SPF means sun protection factor and is often associated with sunscreen. Selecting a broad-spectrum sunscreen is essential. Ensure the broad spectrum sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are dangerous because they lead to premature aging and skin cancer, like melanoma.
UVB rays cause sunburn, mole development, and some types of skin cancer. Sunscreen should become a part of your child’s daily habits before spending time in the sun.
When you use sunscreen, apply a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to protect against UVA and UVB rays. Select a sunscreen lotion that is waterproof or water resistant. Even when using waterproof sunscreen, reapply sunscreen often to ensure ongoing protection against UV radiation from the sun’s rays.
- Avoid sunscreen sprays because they do not always offer full protection against UVA and UVB rays due to the lack of skin coverage during the application. Your child can also inhale sprays.
- Always apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before your child will be exposed to the sun’s rays. Encourage your child to cool off periodically in the shade.
- If your child takes medication, ask your child’s doctor or pharmacist if it can lead to sun sensitivity or allergic reactions. Some antibiotics, allergy medications, and antidepressants can cause increased risks of sunburns.
What Are the Signs of Sunburn?
Anyone can experience a sunburn, but some children are more at risk than others. Your child may be more prone to burning if they have fair skin, freckles, or moles. The following are some signs your child is sunburned.
- Skin redness
- Skin blistering
- Dryness and peeling
If your child experiences serious sunburns, they can run a fever, get chills, and become nauseated. Some children will also experience weakness, headaches, and fatigue.
Protect Your Child’s Eyes
While most parents are diligent about sunscreen and shady areas to protect against sunburns, we often forget a child’s eyes are at risk as well.
It often surprises parents to learn their kids can develop eye sunburns. Unfortunately, parents sometimes choose sunglasses based on the cuteness factor rather than the ultraviolet protection factor.
When selecting a pair of sunglasses for your child, make sure they offer 100% protection from UVA rays. Consider the following tips.
- Select a wraparound style to protect the front and sides of your child’s eyes.
- Choose sunglasses that are durable and will stand up to play.
- Let your child help in the selection because they will be more likely to wear the sunglasses.
Allowing your child to play in the sun without eye protection can be dangerous. When the retinas are exposed to the sun’s rays, macular degeneration, cataracts, and vision disturbances could result.
Thankfully, sunglasses will protect your child’s skin and delicate eyes. Since you cannot apply sunscreen around your child’s eyes, encouraging your child to wear sunglasses serves multiple sun safety purposes.
Protect Against Dehydration
Children’s bodies are much smaller than adults. A child can become easily dehydrated after a day in the sun’s harmful rays. The following puts your child at risk of developing dehydration.
- Playing under direct sunlight
- Playing in the heat without sufficient rest
- Lack of fluids while in the sun
- Prolonged exposure to high temperatures
What Are the Signs of Dehydration?
Parents worry about how to protect kids non-stop. Knowing the signs to look for when your child gets dehydrated and learning sun safety tips will help you worry less and remain in control.
- Increased thirst
- Pale skin color
- Yellow, strong-smelling urine
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Dry mouth, lips, and eyes
- Decreased urination
If you notice these signs, your child needs to get to a cool, shady place and rehydrate. It is essential you do not attempt to rehydrate your child too quickly, or they could become nauseated and vomit.
Dehydration Protection Is Critical
Prevention is always better than reaction. Keeping your child hydrated is not overly difficult if you are prepared.
- Before taking your child outside to spend time in the sun, make sure they are fully hydrated. Have your child drink plenty of water to get ahead of any dehydration.
- Offer your child cool water often. Have your child sit down, rest, and drink cool water regularly to avoid dehydration and fatigue. Even if your child says they are not thirsty, encourage them to drink.
- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a good drink size is five ounces for children up to 88 pounds and nine ounces for teens weighing up to 132 pounds.
- Provide your child with healthy juice popsicles. Sometimes, children will be more willing to enjoy a popsicle over a glass of water. Having both will keep your child hydrated.
Parents need to realize a child’s dehydration is cumulative. Children can become slightly dehydrated by the day. If your child becomes 1% to 2% dehydrated each day, this adds up over time and can become a problem once exposed to high temperatures.
You may not even realize your child is dehydrated until the problem becomes more advanced. Encourage your child to drink water often, even if you have to nag.
A simple way to keep track of your child’s hydration is to monitor the color of their urine. If your child’s urine is any darker than a pale straw color, they are dehydrated. The darker the urine color, the more severe the dehydration.
Protect Against Heat Exhaustion
Sunburn and dehydration are not the only dangers brought on by the sun. Heat exhaustion can affect people of all ages and can be dangerous.
Keep your child in the shade as often as possible. Have them wear sun protective clothing and stay out of the sun during peak hours.
If your child experiences heat exhaustion, take the following steps immediately.
- Begin seeking shade in a cool area.
- Remove any excess clothing, including their shoes.
- Remove any equipment, such as helmets, goggles, etc.
- Place cool, wet cloths on your child’s chest and extremities. Also, place a cool compress across the back of your child’s neck.
- Gentle stretching will help ease any muscle cramps.
If your child does not improve after the steps above, take them to a doctor right away. A heat stroke is a medical emergency that needs immediate attention.
Do Not Let Sun Safety Issues Ruin the Fun
Sun safety begins before you even step outside with your kids. Children may fight you when you try to reapply sunscreen and water consumption, but remain adamant. You know what is best for your child.
Understanding sun safety tips like using broad-spectrum sunscreens, sunglasses, and sun protective clothing are essential for children of all ages. Remaining vigilant in sunscreen application and limiting exposure to the sun will prevent sunburn, skin damage, dehydration, and heat exhaustion.