The Top 20 Sun Safety Tips for Kids
Here’s a scary thought: you will get much of your lifetime sun exposure before the age of 18. And only a few bad sunburns in childhood can increase your risk of skin cancer as an adult. It’s false to think that only a day at the pool or beach is cause for sun protection. The truth is that children–just like the rest of us–need to practice sun safety anytime they head outdoors. Shivani Thakker, PA-C, mom of two little girls, shares with us her top 20 tips for keeping kids sun safe this summer:
- Avoid sun exposure during the peak hours of 10am – 3:00pm. This is one of the most important sun safety tips. If you can’t avoid those hours, then make sure to find a shady spot.
- Play in the shade: Under trees, under an umbrella at the beach or bring pop-up tents.
- Wear sun-protective hats to shield against ultraviolet radiation to the face, head and neck.
- Wear sun-protective clothing: long sleeves (breathable cotton) rash guard swimsuits with built in sun protection (My faves are uvskinz.com and coolibar.com).
- Wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection.
- Wear broad spectrum sunscreen (protects against UVA & UVB radiation) SPF 30 or higher even on cloudy or overcast days. UV rays can still penetrate clouds.
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before planned sun exposure.
- Re-apply SPF every two hours and immediately after if the child has been sweating or swimming.
- Use water resistant sunscreens when they are going to be in water.
- Apply generously, recommendation is one ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) to cover the exposed areas of the body.
- Look for titanium dioxide as the main ingredient, which is a physical blocker.
- Don’t forget about the lips, use a lip balm with SPF 30.
- Teach children how to apply SPF themselves. The solid sticks are great for this—they’re very easy for them to use on face and super-portable.
- Check your children’s medications. Many antibiotics and some supplements are photosensitizers and will make the child more sensitive to sun. If your child is on any such medications, avoid sun exposure.
- Babies under age of six months should be kept out of the sun. If they are going to exposed, make sure to avoid direct sunlight and they should be in protective clothing and a hat with a wide brim.
- Be a good role model! I think this is the most important. If the child sees the parent taking appropriate measures with sun safety, the child is more likely to learn and maintain good habits.
- Avoid PABA as an ingredient in sunscreen.
- Cover birthmarks liberally, certain nevi become red and inflamed in sun.
- Communicate with camp counselors and make sure they are all on the same page about your expectation on how often they should be applying sunscreen on your little ones.
- Make applying SPF part of your morning routine, just like brushing their teeth, and they won’t think twice about doing it.
Shivani’s Favorite Sun-Safe Products for Kids:
When choosing a sunscreen, I opt for mineral based sunscreens for myself and my daughters, as they are physical blockers (versus chemical) and are KINDER to the planet. Mineral sunscreens won’t harm coral reefs. I still LOVE the Blue Lizard however we have discovered some other great options:
- Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream SPF 30, requires more reapplication but it’s organic, contains only 6 ingredients and is cruelty free (makes this momma happy), BONUS it has chamomile which is calming and soothing.
- MDSolarSciences Mineral Kid Creme SPF 40. I love the fact that it is unscented, has green tea, vitamin E and fruit extracts.
- Sunology Natural Sunscreen for Kids SPF 50 – this is a great one for kiddos going to camp. It’s water resistant for up to 80 minutes, it doesn’t feel greasy , won’t sting their eyes, and it’s also cruelty free and reef friendly.
- There are many more brands that have Sun Protective Clothing, Cabana Life has stylish options AND they are doing a promotion this month for Skin Cancer Awareness Month, $20 off a purchase of $75 or more. I love a good deal!
Shivani Thakker, PA-C, treats patients at Schweiger Dermatology Group’s Forest Hills location.