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How to Prevent Sunburns in Children

by Lori Sciame | July 25th, 2023 | Elementary, Safety

girl on beach (400x400)A day at the beach can be blissful…the crashing waves, the cool water, the endless sunshine…what could go wrong?  A parent’s first thought may be drowning.  I agree.  Children should be monitored at all times to prevent this from happening; however, another safety issue should be on one’s mind: the possibility of sunburn.

The tricky thing about sunburn is that is doesn’t show up for several hours after exposure.  This leads to being lax about keeping the skin protected.  And those who have dark skin may think that they do not need to worry about being burned, yet they most certainly do!

Read on to learn more about preventing sunburn in children.

First, the Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF) recommends applying sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure. This allows the product to penetrate the skin – maximizing protection.

As far as which factor of sunscreen to use, the SCF explains, “SPF 15 filters out approximately 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays. SPF 30 keeps out 97 percent and SPF 50 keeps out 98 percent. They may seem like negligible differences, but if you are light-sensitive, or have a history of skin cancer, those extra percentages will make a difference.”

Next, if you take your child to the beach, remember, water will wash off the sunscreen, so it is imperative to re-apply it to all exposed skin every few hours.  Better yet, purchase a sunscreen that has been formulated for use in water, and follow the directions on the bottle exactly.

Another thing parents do to help prevent sunburn:  have their child wear a light colored T-shirt over the swimming suit. WebMD warns that doing so won’t be effective unless a child ALSO has sunscreen on the skin.

Finally, if at all possible, avoid prolonged sun exposure, especially when the sun’s rays are the strongest.  Burns can occur very quickly between 10 AM and 3 PM!  Of course, a visit to the beach will prevent you from avoiding the sun altogether; however, you should not only bring plenty of sunscreen, you should take frequent breaks in the shade.  Find a shade tree, a picnic shelter, or bring a beach umbrella to truly protect your child!

Children’s skin is especially vulnerable to the sun’s rays.  When they sweat or swim, they will reduce the protective effects of sun screen. YOU will have to reign them in to re-apply the product many times throughout the day.  YOU will need to find them shade periodically as well.  Doing so might seem like a pain, yet you will be saving your child a lot of hurt if you prevent a first or second degree burn.

Quick Facts From the Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF):

1. Two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB, damage the skin, age it prematurely, and increase your risk of skin cancer.

2. Anyone over the age of six months should use a sunscreen daily.

3. During a long day at the beach, one person should use around one half to one quarter of an 8 oz. bottle.

For more information, follow this link to the SCF article on sun safety.

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