Sun Safety and Kids
Children under 18 are more at risk to the dangers of Sun Damage than Adults!
Whether your kids are playing in the back yard or swimming at the beach they need to be always protected from the sun. They have the same risks as adults have, perhaps more since much damage can be done to the skin and eyes before the age of 18 .Not a well known fact to most of us with kids.
Children should be taught sun and safety facts early on so they are aware of all the dangers and risks while in the sun or any sunlight.We see how children learn other lessons so young. This is a lesson that we as parents must also teach them.We teach them other safety precautions as they are growing up. Why not also teach them how to protect themselves from the dangers of too much sun and suntanning so they have a chance of a long and healthy life.
Ultraviolet Rays cause Eye and Immune System Damage to Children!
It is true that the sun is a good source of vitamin D since it helps us absorb calcium which gives us healthier bones. But we get plenty of vitamin D very quickly in the sun. Besides skin damage to children, the suns UV rays (ultraviolet rays) also cause damage to the eyes and the immune systems which can be the cause of skin cancers and melanomas.
What are the UVA, UVB, UVB Components of Ultraviolet Rays
There are three types of UV rays (ultraviolet rays) UVA rays, UVB rays , and UVC rays. We are most concerned with the UVA rays and the UVB rays since they are the sun rays that reach us and cause sun damage. While the UVC rays are actually the most dangerous they don’t reach the earth since they are blocked by the ozone layers.
Lets take a look at the UV rays that are dangerous to us and our children:
UVA rays make up the majority of sun exposure since they pass through the ozone layer. UVA rays cause premature skin aging and can cause skin cancers such as melanoma. UVB rays are slightly absorbed by the ozone layers but enough pass though to cause damage to the body. UVB rays cause sunburns and can also be the cause of cataracts later in life. UVB rays can also effect our immune system and cause skin cancers. The most dangerous skin cancer is melanoma and this is very often a result of a UVB sunburn in ones lifetime. How often have you or your children come home from the beach with a sunburn? A sunburn occurs when the amount of UV ray exposure is greater than what can be protected against by your skins melanin.We’ll learn about our body’s melanin below. Isn’t it time for us to protect our children and teach them how to protect themselves?
Melanin is our body’s first line of defense from the sun because it absorbs some of the UVA rays and the UVB rays before they cause us serious damage. However they do not absorb all the rays and we need extra protection . Melanin also is different in each of us and much depends on how skin type. Be aware if your child is considered a high risk.The darker skin type person has greater amounts of melanin protection. So those of us who have fair hair and light skinned are at a greater risk for sunburning and sun damage. And those kids also who may have a tendency to moles on their skins should always be aware of any changes and should have them routinely checked by their doctor or pediatrician. And always know and pass down to your children any family history of skin cancers including melanoma. We need to be extra cautious when out in the sunlight and whenever we are likely to be exposed to the sun or any suntanning.Watch out for your child’s healthy tan because it is often the first sign of sun damage.
So what can we do to teach our children about the risks of the sun and ultraviolet rays? (both UVA rays and UVB rays)
1…Avoid sun when it the strongest and most dangerous . This is usually between 10 am and 4 pm. This is a great time to play under that shady tree in the yard if possible. If this isnt possible make sure they know to apply sunscreen often. And even on those cloudy and overcast days the UV rays are still getting through the clouds and can cause skin damage.How many times have we all been surprised when we actually went inside and noticed how sunburned we were.But where was the sun? We even felt a cool breeze all day.How did this happen? Don’t let your children have that false sense of security that we all seemed to grow up with.
2…Keep covered up. Wear protective clothes. Make sure that your kids clothes screen out the ultraviolet rays by not having their clothes too sheer.Wearing light clothes whenever possible is the best prevention along with hats with wide brims to shield the face and head. Babies should always be covered and also have the use of an umbrella for shade. Remember that babies under the age of 6 months should never use any sunblock lotion so they must always be protected from the sun and the UV rays and stay in a shaded area.
3..Sunscreen..Sunscreen….Sunscreen…….Children should always wear sunscreen and sunblock lotions. There are many brands available and they come in lotions,creams and spray bottles. For babies and all kids over the age of 6 months they should be protected with a SPF (sun protective factor) of at least SPF 30. This will protect them from sunburning and also suntanning. Read your labels carefully. Choose a sunscreen that is listed as a broad spectrum sunscreen which will protect the kids from both the UVA rays and the UVB rays. If your child has allergies or sensitive skin ( and so many seem to these days) avoid the sunscreens with PABA ingredients.Try to find the active ingredient titanium dioxide (a chemical free sunblock ingredient)
Remember to apply the sunscreen generously about 30 minutes before the kids go outside .Reapplying it every two hours is now recommended by many doctors and also by the American Academy of Dermatology. If they are swimming it also needs to be reapplied after they are out of the water. Waterproof sunscreens are best when your child is at the beach because the protection lasts longer.
4..Use Sunglasses ….Kids need to be aware that their eyes can also be damaged by the sun. It is equally important to protect their eyes from the UV rays when out in the sun or sunlight.The best way to protect the eyes is to wear sunglasses.But not all sunglasses offer ultraviolet protection.Many kids sunglasses just look cool but are just dark plastic lenses and offer no protection. Purchase sun glasses that assure you that they are 100 UV protection. We purchase these for ourselves….why not our kids?
5…And lastly check any medications your kids may be taking. Some meds increase the skins sensitivity and reactions to the ultraviolet rays. Kids will then be more prone to sun damage and sunburn. If you aren’t sure you can check with their doctor or pharmacist.