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Sun Safety – Protect Your Child From The Sun

The Pros and Cons of Sun Exposure


Some sun exposure is good because it provides the body with a source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps absorb calcium to help form stronger and healthier bones.  However, it does not take a long time in the sun in order to get the amount of vitamin D that the body needs.


Repetitive exposure to the sun can cause skin damage, eye damage, immune system suppression, and skin cancer. Doctors are even seeing people in their twenties with skin cancer. Majority of sun exposure in a person’s life is before the age of 18, that is why it is important to teach your children sun safety at an early age.

3 types of ultraviolet rays that sunlight gives off:

UVA rays:

These types of rays cause skin aging and wrinkling and also contribute to skin cancer, such as melanoma. UVA rays can pass through the ozone layer (the protective layer of atmosphere that surrounds earth); therefore they make up the majority of sun exposure.

UVB rays:

These type of rays cause sunburns, cataracts (clouding of the eye lens), and effect the immune system. They also contribute to skin cancer. It is thought that Melanoma, the most dangerous and deadly kind of skin cancer is associated with UVB sunburn before the age of 20. Some UVB rays are absorbed through the ozone layer, but not enough to prevent serious damage.

UVC rays:

Chances are you haven’t heard of UVC rays. UVC rays are the most dangerous but are blocked by the earth’s ozone layer; therefore we do not have to protect ourselves from them.

The facts:

  • Both dark and light skinned children need to be protected from sun damage
  • Even a healthy tan may be a sign of sun damage
  • Not all UV concentration is “equal”. The intensity depends on the time of year and the location. Extra protection is required for summer months and in locations near the equator where the sun is the strongest.
  • UV rays reflect off both snow and water. This increases the probability of sunburn.
  • Most sun damage occurs during day-to day activities, not at the beach.
  • Even on cloudy, cool, or overcast days, UV rays can travel through the clouds.
  • Children that are at high risk for skin cancer include:
    • Children with moles or whose parents have a tendency to develop moles
    • Fair skin and hair
    • A family history of melanoma

Avoiding sun damage:

  • Avoid sun exposure between the hours of 10 and 4. This is when the sun is the strongest.  If children must be in the sun during these hours, make sure protective sunscreen is applied and reapplied.
  • Make sure your children to not use tanning beds. Both UVA and UVB tanning beds produce sunburn and increase the risk of melanoma.
  • Have your children war clothing that shields them from UV rays. If you can see through the clothing, then UV rays can penetrate through.
  • Use sunscreen consistently whenever your child will be in the sun. Apply 15-30 minutes before your children go outside. Don’t forget about the lips, hands, ears, feet, shoulders, behind the neck, and underneath bathing suits straps. Reapply approximately every 2 hours as recommended by the Academy of Dermatology or after your child has been sweating or swimming. Apply a waterproof sunscreen if your child will be around water.
  • When picking a sunscreen, concentrate on the SPF (sun protection factor). Select an SPF of 30 or greater to protect from sunburn. Also choose a sunscreen that states on the label that it protects from UVA and UV rays.
  • Have your children wear sunglasses that protect 100% against UV rays.
  • Double check with your child’s doctor to make sure any medications your child is taking doesn’t increase sun sensitivity.


What to do if you child gets a sunburn:

  • Have them take a cool bath
  • Apply aloe vera gel (available at most pharmacies) to sunburn
  • Apply moisturizing cream to rehydrate the skin and treat itching. Avoid using petroleum-based products because they prevent excess heat and sweat from escaping

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