Thursday, June 3, 2010

Shedding Light on Sun Protection

School is over, the flowers are in bloom, the pools are cool, and the ice cream man can be heard in the distance. This can only mean one thing—summer is here. Many children love the warm sun and enjoy feeling the sun’s rays on their skin, especially after experiencing cooler climates. All children need some sun exposure; it’s their primary source of vitamin D, which helps absorb calcium to build strong and healthy bones. However, it doesn’t take much time in the sun for children to get the vitamin D they need, and too much unprotected sun exposure can cause freckles, easy bruising, premature skin aging, skin discoloration and even skin cancer.

Parents can play a pivotal role in the prevention and early detection of the effects of too much sun exposure by following these five easy steps.

Limit outdoor playing time between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. During this time, the sun’s rays are at their strongest. If a child is in the sun between these hours, apply proper protective sunscreen. Also, don’t be fooled by cloud coverage. Even on cloudy days, the sun’s rays remain strong.

Apply sunscreen properly. Parents should generously apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to children playing outside. Choose a sunscreen that has an SPF of 45 or higher. When applying, don’t forget to cover ears, nose, hands, shoulders, feet and behind the neck. It’s also important to remember the lips and scalp, as they can also easily burn. Apply a lip balm that contains SPF protection.

Cover up. To ward off ultraviolet damage, wear protective clothing. Keep children covered with dark colors, long sleeves and pants. Accessories are just as important. Sunglasses with ultraviolet protection can help prevent the cornea from burning, and hats will help protect the face and scalp.

Keep watch on medications. Some medications increase the skin’s sensitivity to sun. Prescription antibiotics and acne medications are the biggest culprits. Parents should consult with a doctor if they are unsure about the medications their child is taking.

Set a good example for children. A child will likely follow suit if he or she sees a parent following sun-safety rules. Skin protection is important for all family members, so set a good example for children and cover up when heading out into the sun.

Reviewed by Terrence Brogan, M.D., pediatric dermatologist at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St.Vincent.

1 comment:

sun advocate said...

There is no better way to protect your skin than wearing sun protection clothing. It's awesome that you teach your readers about sun protection. I first learned about it while browsing