This week, we are taking a look at sun safety for kids as they prepare to go back to school. As the weather starts to cool, and kids prepare to go back to school, it is import to remember that sun safety is never out of season. In late summer and early fall, the sun’s rays are still extremely strong during the peak hours of 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and remembering to keep up your sun safety routine should be at the top of your back-to-school checklist. On a cloudy fall day you are getting as much exposure to UVA rays as you would on a hot and sunny summer day. The best approach is the same as for any sunny day: if your kids will be outside for a long time, put on the sunscreen and follow the same sun safety rules you would in the summer. The sun produces invisible ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can cause damage to your child’s skin. Sunburn and even a suntan are types of skin damage caused by the sun. The risk of developing skin cancer will be substantially reduced for children who learn to protect their skin from the sun at an early age, according to the nonprofit organization Sun Safety for Kids.
What can I do as a parent to protect my kids from the sun?
- Encourage them to seek shade during recess and other time outdoors whenever possible.
- Apply sunscreen of at least an SPF of 30 or higher in the morning. Pack sunscreen with older kids and remind them to apply it before going outside. Remind them not forget the ears, lips, noses and tops of feet. Teach kids how to reapply sunscreen if they are old enough.
- Provide your kids with a protective lip balm with an SPF 30 or higher and encourage them to reapply it throughout the day if they are old enough. Lips receive more sun exposure than any other part of the body.
- Dress kids in protective clothing such as long sleeves and pants, darker colors and clothing with UV protection when possible. Many clothing manufacturers now offer stylish UPF-clothes that offer all-day protection without the need to reapply.
- Encourage kids to wear a wide-brimmed hat. While baseball caps are very popular with kids and do a great job of protecting the scalp, they don’t protect the cheeks, ears and neck. If they select a baseball hat, be sure you also thoroughly cover the face, ears and neck with sunscreen.
- Send UV-protecting sunglasses with your kids and ask them to wear them when they are outdoors. Sunglasses protect your child’s eyes from UV rays, which can lead to cataracts and increased risk of ocular melanoma later in life.
- Be a strong sun safety role model and follow sun safety tips. Show your kids that you and other members of your family are serious about sun protection.
- Get involved! Throughout the country more school systems are acknowledging their role in protecting children from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Speak up at parent-teacher conferences to encourage teachers and administration to help protect kids while they’re at school. Vote for sun-protecting sails, shades and shelters on playgrounds.
For More Information on Sun Safety for Kids If you would like to speak to a board-certified dermatologist about sun safety or any other skin care topics for your children or yourself, find the Forefront dermatologist nearest you to schedule an appointment or learn more today. Sun Safety at School The brochure Sun Safety at Schools: What You Can Do explains how parents can promote sun safety.