Summer is here in full force. Time for outdoor activities and summer fun in the sun with your kids. While outdoor activities in the warm, summer sun can be a pleasure, what about potential sun damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays?
You may have questions about how to protect your kids from the sun’s damaging rays. One of the best ways is to apply a sunscreen with a high SPF, particularly one that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Should all kids wear sunscreen when they’re outdoors playing?
Most doctors say sunscreen is extremely important at any age, but even more so in children since sun damage is cumulative meaning it accumulates over a lifetime. In fact, more than 80 percent of sun damage occurs prior to the age of 18. You may want to seriously consider protecting your child before he or she goes outside to play in order to prevent future skin problems.
What kind of problems can the sun’s damaging rays cause?
The most obvious one is skin cancer, but this isn’t the only danger chronic sun exposure can cause. The sun’s rays increase the risk of a more dangerous type of skin cancer called malignant melanoma. It can also cause damage to the eyes which can result in cataract formation. Excessive sun exposure suppresses the immune system which can lead to a whole host of serious disease states. This doesn’t even include all the superficial effects such as excessive skin wrinkling. Interestingly enough, a study recently published shows that kids who wear sunscreen get fewer skin moles.
Fortunately, sun exposure isn’t all bad. It seems to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, and osteoporosis, probably due to it being an excellent source of Vitamin D.
At what age should you start applying sunscreen to your child?
Doctors are recommending that sun protection start at around six months of age and continue throughout a lifetime. It should be applied liberally and reapplied after swimming or excessive sweating and at least every two hours to get optimal protection. Encourage your kids to take their activities into the shade during the hours of 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM when the sun’s rays are the brightest. They should also protect their eyes by wearing sunglasses.
If sun exposure is approached sensibly and with moderation, it can be a great mood lifter and an excellent source of bone preserving vitamin D. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!