RadioMD: Healthy Children

Sun Safety: Everything You Need to Know About Protecting Your Family

June 10, 20159 min
What are some sun safety tips you need to know in order to protect your family?Summertime might imply that it's time to kick back, relax, and finally enjoy yourself after a long winter bundled up indoors. However, summer also means the sun's power is a lot stronger and you're more at risk for sunburn and developing skin cancer.What are some sun safety tips you need to know in order to protect your family?

Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. Find shade under a tree, an umbrella, or the stroller canopy.
When possible, dress yourself and your children in cool, comfortable clothing that covers the body, such as lightweight cotton pants, long-sleeved shirts, and hats.
Select clothes made with a tight weave; they protect better than clothes with a looser weave. If you're not sure how tight a fabric's weave is, hold it up to see how much light shines through. The less light, the better. Or, you can look for protective clothing labeled with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF).
Wear a hat with an all-around 3-inch brim to shield the face, ears, and back of the neck.
Limit your sun exposure between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. when UV rays are strongest.
Wear sunglasses with at least 99% UV protection. Look for child-sized sunglasses with UV protection for your child.
Use sunscreen.
Make sure everyone in your family knows how to protect his or her skin and eyes. Remember to set a good example by practicing sun safety yourself.

Sunscreen is one way that you can protect you and your family's skin from the harmful and powerful UVA/UVB rays. With TONS of options available, how do you know which ones to pick?

Use a sunscreen that says "broad-spectrum" on the label; that means it will screen out both UVB and UVA rays.
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 (up to SPF 50). An SPF of 15 or 30 should be fine for most people. More research studies are needed to test if sunscreens with more than SPF 50 offer any extra protection.
If possible, avoid the sunscreen ingredient oxybenzone because of concerns about mild hormonal properties. Remember, though, it's important to take steps to prevent sunburn, so using any sunscreen is better than not using sunscreen at all.
For sensitive areas of the body, such as the nose, cheeks, tops of the ears, and shoulders, choose a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These products may stay visible on the skin even after you rub them in, and some come in fun colors that children enjoy.

What are some other sun safety tips you should follow?Listen in as David L. Hill, MD, FAAP, shares everything you need to know about keeping your loved ones safe from the sun this summer.

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