The warm weather has arrived! After many months of cold, winter weather, the kids are excited to go outside and play or do outdoor sports. Here are some tips to help keep your kids' skin protected while they enjoy their time outdoors.
1. Get the kids involved
A good way to get them to participate is to take them shopping for a wide-brimmed hat, UV protective sunglasses, and sun-protective clothing (such as a rash guard for the beach or a shirt that has an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF)). Get the kids involved in the process by letting them pick ones that they like and would be willing to wear regularly.
2. Apply sunscreen before going outside
Parents and kids* should apply broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen everyday about a half hour before going outside. Take a sunscreen bottle with you when you head out for the day so that you can reapply it later. You will need to reapply it about every two hours or more often if you go swimming or get very sweaty.
(*=According to the American Academy of Dermatology, sunscreen can be used on children age 6 months and older.)
3. Make sunscreen use easy to remember
Put a bottle of sunscreen in an accessible place such as the bathroom or your child's backpack so that he remembers to use it as part of his daily routine.
4. Wear UV protective sunglasses, a hat, and sun protective clothing
In addition to wearing sunscreen, people should also wear sun protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat (which offers more coverage than a baseball cap). Children (age 6 months and older) should wear sunglasses with UV protection to protect their eyes and the skin around their eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays which can cause skin damage and eye damage. When buying sunglasses, check the label to make sure that it blocks 99%-100% of both UVA and UVB rays. Wraparound sunglasses tend to offer the most protection. If your child is young and very active, you can purchase scratch-proof, plastic lenses to keep up with his activity level.
5. Seek shade
Try to limit sun exposure especially during the peak sun hours (10AM-4PM) and seek shade when possible.
6. Educate and model sun safety behavior
Explain to your children the importance of sun protection so they can understand why it is necessary to take these steps. Studies have shown that people who had multiple sunburns in childhood are at an increased risk for developing melanoma later in life so it's important for kids to start practicing these healthy habits at a young age. Parents should model sun safety habits. If your children see that you wear sunscreen and sun protective clothing then they will better grasp the value of it.
7. Discourage your teen from tanning
Sun tanning outside or using UV tanning booths (indoor tanning) emits harmful UV rays which are hazardous to the skin and can increase the risk of premature aging and skin cancer. Speak with your teen and emphasize the importance of embracing her natural skin color. If necessary, she can use bronzers or sunless self tanners.
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About Dr. Margaret Ravits
Dr. Ravits and her team of board-certified dermatologists offer comprehensive treatment to adults and children in their River Edge and Hackensack offices. Along with her private practice, Dr. Ravits is a Senior Attending at Hackensack University Medical Center where she previously served as the Chief of the Division of Dermatology. She is also a Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at NY-Presbyterian Hospital.
Learn more about Dr. Ravits at: www.ravitsdermatology.com