Nine out of ten cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are caused by exposure to the sun. And getting just one blistering sunburn during the childhood or adolescent years can raise your child’s risk of developing cancer later in life. The risk goes up with each sunburn, particularly in the first 18 years of life. Sunburns are possible even in the winter months, when the rays are not as strong. The rays can bounce off of the snow, which makes them extra potent, and many parents don’t even think about slathering their kids with sunscreen when the temperatures are hovering around the freezing mark.
Here are some things you need to know:
*Your littlest ones should not be in the sun much at all. Babies under six months of age should not wear sunscreen unless the benefits clearly outweigh the risks, and in most cases, only your pediatrician can tell you whether they do. You should avoid exposing your infant to the winter elements anyway, if possible.
*Avoid sending your kids out to play in direct sunlight between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. Even though it’s chilly, the sun’s rays can still cause damage.
*Use a tear-free sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 on any exposed areas of your child’s body. Depending on what your child is wearing, these parts might include the ears, the face, the hands and the back of his neck. Do this even on cloudy days, as the rays can penetrate clouds.
*Give your child a pair of snazzy sunglasses to wear. These will help him avoid squinting due to sun glare, and will protect the delicate skin around his eyes, as well as the eyes themselves.
*If your child has tanned skin or freckles, this is an indication that sun damage has already occurred. Ask his pediatrician if he should have a once-over by a dermatologist.
*Look for SPF of 30 or higher and choose a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
* Sun shirts and a Hat are sometimes your best line of defense against the sun. Read all about our sunblock guidelines
You can easily keep your child safe from the potentially damaging effects of the sun by remembering to protect his baby-soft skin. The protection you provide now can carry benefits that will last his entire life!