There are simple sun safety precautions that can reduce UV exposure and prevent skin damage and sunburn among children. Remember that it is all about timing, shade and the use of protective clothing and application of sunscreen.
It is important to note that sun safety needs vary at different times of the year and varying times of the day. The reason for this is that UV radiation varies throughout the year depending on the season.
Shade provides the child with some protection against UV radiation. Dense shade that creates a dark shadow is the best.
Just remember that UV can still reach the body despite the shade. Even if sitting under a shade, the child should wear protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat. Sunscreen should be applied on any exposed skin.
If shade is not available, create your own with an umbrella or sunshade. Try to keep window sunshades in a vehicle to stick on the side windows and protect the child while on the road.
- Look for clothes made out of tightly woven fabric to protect the skin against the sun. Hold the fabric up to the light to check if the sun gets through. If the fabric allows light through, it can allow UV to pass through as well.
- Cotton clothing is cooler than those that are made out of acrylic fibers.
- Long-sleeved shirts and long pants should be used since they cover more skin.
- Loose-fitting clothes are cooler.
Do not forget a hat since it protects the child’s face, ears and neck from the UV rays of the sun. Those that are widely-brimmed are the ideal choice.
Sunglasses should be used along with a hat to protect the eyes. It is best to use close-fitting, wrap-around sunglasses.
Application of sunscreen
A sunscreen that is water-resistant with SPF 30 or higher should be applied on the face, hands and other parts of the skin not covered by clothes. The exposed areas are at high risk for sunburn.
Apply the sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every 2 hours. Take note that sunscreen can be used on infants and children of any age. For infants below 6 months, try to cover as much skin as possible using clothing and apply sunscreen on any skin left uncovered.
The sunscreens labelled for “babies” or “sensitive” are less likely to trigger skin irritation. Before applying one, test the sunscreen on a small area of the skin to check for any skin reactions.