What Parents Need to Know About Kids and Sunscreen

October 2018

Even a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s chances of getting skin cancer, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To prevent sunburn, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants avoid sun exposure and wear lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts and brimmed hats that shade the neck. When adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor) to small areas, such as the infant’s face and the back of the hands.

For toddlers, preschoolers and older children, on both sunny and cloudy days, use a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or greater that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Be sure to apply enough sunscreen — about one ounce per application for an older child. Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating. For the best protection, apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors. Don’t forget to protect ears, noses, lips and the tops of feet.

Use extra caution near water, sand and snow, as these surfaces reflect UV rays and may result in sunburn more quickly.

Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes. Yet it can take up to 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure. So if your child’s skin looks “a little pink” today, it may be burned tomorrow morning. To prevent further burning, get your child out of the sun.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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