Eskenazi Health pediatrician
As the school year winds down and youths spend more time enjoying outdoor activities, it’s a good idea for parents to do all they can to protect their children from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
The sun can damage unprotected skin in as little as 15 minutes, yet skin may not show the full effect of sun exposure for 12 hours. If a child has spent time outside and his skin appears a little pink when he comes in, it could be burned in the morning.
It only takes a few serious sunburns to increase a child’s odds of having to deal with skin cancer later in life. And make no mistake about it, any and all suntans equate to damaged skin, so laying out in the sun unprotected should be avoided at all times.
Taking important steps to avoid sunburn and eventual skin cancer in you and your child are easy and take little time to initiate. For instance, seek shade especially during midday hours when the UV rays from the sun are strongest and most harmful. It’s also wise to wear a hat or cap, preferably one that covers the ears and neck, and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants or skirts to provide additional protection.
One of the best tactics for avoiding sun damage to the skin is to apply sunscreen before your child goes outside with at least a SPF, or sun protection factor, of 15 and UVA and UVB protection. It’s recommended to apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before they go outdoors, and always remember to apply generously to the ears, nose, lips and tops of feet.
Sunscreen should be reapplied during the day, especially after a child swims or exercises, and that also applies to waterproof and water-resistant sun protection products. If a sunny day turns cool and cloudy, don’t be fooled into thinking your child is protected. Clouds can filter UV rays, but they cannot block them.
Wherever you go with your children, always plan ahead and keep sun protection on hand in your car, bag or child’s backpack.
Visit www.healthchildren.org for more information.
If you are in need of a pediatrician for your child or a primary care physician for yourself, call 317-880-8687 or visit www.eskenazihealth.edu/doctors.