Where I live, the sun is pretty potent all year long. However, in the wintertime, it is easy to let those sun protection habits slide since clothing covers so much of my body. As the weather warms up, and it REALLY warms up here, the clothes become lighter, the pants become shorts, and the skin is once again exposed to the harsh rays of the sun.
This is where Sun Safety 101 comes in handy.
1. The best protection is to avoid sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is at its hottest. And, just because it is cloudy does not mean you can’t get a sunburn.
2. Cover that skin! Wear clothing that is not see-through. A good rule to follow is that if you can put your hand under a piece of clothing and see your hand through it, the UV rays can penetrate through it as well. Hats, especially those with a wide brim, are a necessity when blocking the sun from the face, one of the most sensitive skin areas.
3. Sunscreen! Sunscreen is another way to cover the skin, but remember that sunscreen should not be used on children under 6 months of age. You must also reapply often and liberally, so be sure to read the directions on the package and follow them accordingly. Just because a sunscreen is waterproof does not mean you won’t have to reapply! Also, pay attention to the SPF level of your sunscreen. The rule in our house is nothing under 30 SPF. And, sunscreen should always be applied at least 30 minutes before sun exposure to build up a “block” within the skin.
4. Save those eyes! Don’t forget that your eyes can suffer permanent damage from the sun’s strong rays. Have your child find a pair of sunglasses they like, and make sure that they offer total UV protection. Just because they are tinted does not mean they will protect those delicate eyes!
5. Be sure and ask your doctor or pharmacist about sensitivity to the sun if your child is on medication. I can recall a time I was on an antibiotic and sat in the sun for about 20 minutes, resulting in one of the most intense burns I have ever had. Certain medications can make your skin highly sensitive to the sun, so be sure to check that out before going outside.
Tomorrow we’ll discuss ways to treat sunburns, especially in younger children…but let’s hope that’s not something you will need this year!