With school out and summer upon us, families are looking forward to the long, sunny days of the season. However, with that comes the need to protect children from overexposure to the sun and painful sunburns that can cause long-term skin damage.
Anna L. Bruckner, MD, pediatric dermatologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, offers the following tips for ensuring the best sun protection for your family.
•Look for sunblocks with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. A sunblock that’s also labeled “water-resistant” or “very water-resistant” will provide the best and longest-lasting coverage, especially for outings to the park or pool. Also check the active ingredients, and look for zinc oxide or titanium dioxide on the list — these ingredients are less irritating if your child has sensitive skin.
•Look for products labeled “broad spectrum,” meaning they protect against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. UVB protection prevents sunburn. UVA rays don’t burn as easily, but they do penetrate deeper into the skin, causing leathering and wrinkling, as well as suppressed skin immunity, which can ultimately lead to skin cancer.
•Opt for sunblocks instead of sunscreens – or a product that combines both. Sunblocks contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which physically block the sun’s rays by scattering ultraviolet (UV) radiation on contact. Sunscreens absorb UV radiation with chemicals. Chemical sunscreens also tend to burn the eyes if they migrate in that direction, whereas sunblocks with only zinc oxide or titanium oxide don’t. Products that combine good UVB chemical sunscreens with a physical blocker for a higher SPF and broad-spectrum coverage are also effective.
•A “regular” SPF 30 sunblock will protect your kids just as well as a "baby" SPF 30 sunblock, if both are water-resistant and have the same active ingredients. Often, the only difference is cuter labeling and marketing on the baby and kid products. However, some “baby” sunblocks may be better for infants, children and even adults with sensitive skin.
•Avoid using sunscreen sprays on children. The active ingredients in sunscreen are great for protecting the skin, but they are not good for the lungs. So when it comes to spray-on sunscreen, recent research suggests that kids (who are typically not great at holding their breath) are at increased risk for breathing in these chemicals. Sunscreen lotions often contain moisturizers, which many people like. For kids, though, a thicker cream is best, as greasier products tend to have better water resistance and longer, more consistent coverage.
•You need to apply about an ounce of sunblock, or the size of a shot glass, to effectively cover the exposed parts of your body. Apply sunblock to skin indoors, preferably before dressing, at least 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun. Be sure to reapply every one to two hours, or sooner if you swim, sweat profusely or towel off. Most people apply only half the amount recommended, and not evenly, decreasing the SPF and allowing uncovered areas to burn. For best results, apply sunblock evenly and often.
•Sunblock should be a part of a total sun protection program that includes hats, protective clothing and sunglasses. Avoid exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest and UV radiation is most intense. After 3 p.m. is a much safer time to take your kids to the pool. Finally, don’t forget that water and snow reflect UV rays, too, so faces and lips often need extra protection.
Find out more at http://www.childrenscolorado.org/sunscreentips.
About Children’s Hospital Colorado
Children’s Hospital Colorado (Children’s Colorado) has defined and delivered pediatric health care excellence for more than 100 years. Founded in 1908, Children’s Colorado is a leading pediatric network entirely devoted to the health and well-being of children. Continually acknowledged as one of the nation’s outstanding pediatric hospitals by U.S. News & World Report and ranked on its Best Children’s Hospitals 2016-17 Honor Roll, Children’s Colorado is known for both its nationally and internationally recognized medical, research, education and advocacy programs, as well as comprehensive everyday care for kids throughout Colorado and surrounding states. Children’s Colorado is the winner of the 2015 American Hospital Association-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize, and is a 2013-2016 Most Wired hospital according to Hospitals & Health Networks magazine. Children’s Colorado also is recognized for excellence in nursing from the American Nurses Credentialing Centers and has been designated a Magnet® hospital since 2005. The hospital’s family-centered, collaborative approach combines the nation’s top pediatric doctors, nurses and researchers to pioneer new approaches to pediatric medicine. With urgent, emergency and specialty care locations throughout Metro Denver and Southern Colorado, including its campus on the Anschutz Medical Campus, Children’s Colorado provides a full spectrum of pediatric specialties. For more information, visit www.childrenscolorado.org and connect with Children’s Colorado on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Children’s Hospital Colorado complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.
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