Scott A. Norton, MD, MPH, MSc, Chief of Dermatology at Children’s National Health System advises parents on summer sun safety.
Sun safety is very important as the temperature keeps rising. Children and teens are exposed to the sun a lot more in the summer due to popular outdoor activities. The key to keeping your child safe during the summer is to remember to use sunblock with a high SPF, apply frequently, and use a generous amount.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone use sunscreen that offers a broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays), sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or greater, and is water resistance. It’s easy for families to skimp on the amount of sunblock they apply to their kids. Putting a large amount of sunblock on your child or teen just once for the whole day is not enough. Everyone needs sunscreen, except for babies less than six months old because they should not be exposed to direct sunlight. It is also important to use a chap stick that has SPF in it as well. Just like your body, lips can get sunburned as well.
When applying sunscreen to your children, even teenagers, one ounce is the proper amount. That is the same amount it takes to fill a shot glass. The amount can vary based on the size of the child but this is the general amount to follow. Apply the sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before going outdoors. Re-apply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating according to the directions on the bottle.
Sunscreen should be worn everyday even when it’s cloudy. Use precaution when near water, snow and sand. They reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase the likelihood of sunburn. If your children are in the sun, they should wear protective clothing and stay in shady areas. It’s especially important to keep teens away from tanning beds because the ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If teens want to look tanner they should use a self-tanning product like a lotion.