The sun is finally out and if you're anything like me, you don't think about sunscreen until right after you've been out in it too long - ouch! This year, I'm ready and thought I'd share some tips on how to keep you and your family - of all ages - safe in the sun.
Tips for Avoiding Sunburn
1. Dress for success. In this case that means wearing sun protective clothing, hats, and other physical barriers to protect the skin from the sun. And don't forget sunglasses!
2. Try to avoid the sun's most intense rays by staying out of the sun during the middle of the day when the sun's rays are most intense. This may seem obvious, but it takes advance planning.
3. Don't be lulled into complacency by overcast days, since most of the sun's harmful rays will get through the clouds.
4. Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight altogether. Shade can be found under a tree, umbrella, or the stroller.
5. Be especially careful if you are around water, sand, snow, or any surface that will reflect and therefore intensify the sun's rays.
6. Remember, the sun’s rays are more intense the higher you get in elevation. Use extra precaution when in the mountains.
Tips for Selecting Sunscreen
1. When purchasing sunscreen, select a brand with an SPF of at least 30, preferably greater.
2. Choose a sunscreen that says “broad-spectrum” on the label – this means it will provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
3. In general, infants' skin is much thinner and more sensitive to the sun than adults' skin, even in individuals with darker complexions.
4. The amount of sunscreen needed depends on how light the child’s complexion is. I prefer mineral based sunscreens to chemical based sunscreens where practical.
5. The AAP used to recommend not putting sunscreen on infants under six months of age. This is no longer the case, because the danger from sunburns outweighs the risk of sensitivity to sunscreens. For babies younger than 6 months, use sunscreen on small areas of the body, such as the face and the backs of the hands.
6. Sunscreen is most effective if first applied 20-30 minutes before sun exposure.
7. Re-apply after swimming.
8. Even waterproof sunscreens should be re-applied every 80 minutes or so, after being in the water.
Check out this great mineral based sunscreen that our family loves.
Now go outside and play!
Kylie Vannaman MD
Dr. Vannaman is a proud family physician and co-founder of Health Suite 110