Summer is here! As parents we always want the best for our children. We want them to enjoy life, be happy, laugh, play, learn and be respectful to all.
So what does this have to do with summer? Summertime means fun, social gatherings, friends, water activities, camping, vacations, and sun. Most of these activities involve the outdoors along with increased exposure to the sun.
Let us enjoy our summer outdoor activities in a safe environment. Let's have the swim parties and outdoor BBQ's without the worry of sunburns and as a result we can decrease the risk of skin cancer and premature aging.
How do we protect ourselves from the harmful effects of the sun?
Avoid the sun during peak hours
Wear sun-protective clothing
Use broad spectrum sunscreen regularly
Why is sunscreen so important?
Sunlight is essential for the synthesis of Vitamin D and has also been shown to have positive effects on mood, but UVA and UVB radiation exposure contribute to sunburn, skin aging, inflammation and skin cancer.
What is SPF?
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a measure of the ability of sunscreen to protect the skin from sunburn. SPF is measured by taking the ratio of the dose of sun that produces minimal sunburn between sunscreen protected skin and unprotected skin.
Which sunscreen is best for me?
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 or above, and water or sweat resistance.
The two types of sunscreens available are organic (chemical sunscreens) which absorbs UV radiation and inorganic (physical sunscreens) which are mineral compounds that reflect or scatter UV light. Organic sunscreens (like oxybenzone and octinoxate) are effective at protecting skin from the sun, but further studies are needed to understand more about how these substances are absorbed into the body and what, if any, clinical significance they may have. If you are concerned about systemic absorption of organic sunscreens, then I recommend the use of inorganic sunscreens (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide).
Lotions tend to be less greasy than creams.
What is water resistant sunscreen?
"Water resistant" means that it has an SPF which is maintained after 40 minutes of water activity or sweating. "Very water resistant" means it has an SPF which is maintained after 80 minutes of water activity or sweating.
Is sunscreen safe for young infants?
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sunscreen on infants over the age of six months. Inorganic sunscreen is preferred for infants and children due to less skin irritation and skin penetration potential.
How do I apply sunscreen to my child?
Use the "teaspoon rule":
1 tsp to face and neck
2 tsp front and back torso
1 tsp to each arm
2 tsp to each leg
Apply 15-30 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every 2 hours, or after swimming or sweating.
What else can I do to protect my child from the sun?
Use sun protective clothing. Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) measures the degree of protection from clothes.
Classification of protective clothing is as follows:
UPF 15 - 24 good protection
UPF 25 - 39 very good protection
UPF 40 - 50 excellent protection
For more information on sun protective clothing go to Skin Cancer Foundation.
Have a fun and safe summer!