Sun Protection for Children

Sun Protection for Children

Sun Protection for children is important because skin cancer in children is becoming more common in our society and sunscreen at an early age will help them as they grow older.  It's important for parents to take charge of skin protection because obviously we can't expect children to know the difference between SPF 30 and SPF 50. Skin cancer accounts for 4% of pediatric malignancies, as stated in the pediatric medical journal. The good news is that 90% of all skin cancer is preventable.

Several factors determine a child's propensity for skin problems from sun exposure. These include skin color, eye color, tendency to freckle and family history. But perhaps the most important factor is how much unprotected sun exposure a child has in early life. That's why skin protection is so important. The damage will show up for them in later life and by then it's too late.

Skin damage from the sun comes from overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. This problem will only get worse with time as Global Warming and the depletion of the ozone layer will allow more and more harmful UV rays through. 

According to recent studies based on the Montreal Protocol, the Earth's ozone layer has dropped 6% between 1983 and 1993. And it's thought that every 1% drop translates into a 1% to 5% increase in skin cancer. This is why sun protection and sunscreen of SPF 30 and above is so important.

Some good news in regard to the ozone and what human being can do, shows that more than 30 years after the Montreal Protocol, NASA scientists documented the first direct proof that Antarctic ozone is recovering because of the CFC phase-down: Ozone depletion in the region has declined 20 percent since 2005. And at the end of 2018, the United Nations confirmed in a scientific assessment that the ozone layer is recovering, projecting that it would heal completely in the (non-polar) Northern Hemisphere by the 2030s, followed by the Southern Hemisphere in the 2050s and polar regions by 2060.

How to protect children? A good place to start for sun protection is the UV index that is published daily in many newspapers and online. If you can't find it there, Google for it. Here are the rating levels and suggested sun protection actions:

1-2 (low) use sunglasses

3-5 (medium) use sunglasses and sunscreen

6-7 (high) use sunglasses, sunscreen and hat

8-10 (very high) use sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, uv clothing and find shade periodically

11+ (extreme) use sunglasses, sunscreen, hats, uv clothing and stay in shade all day

Apply enough sunscreen and don't be shy to reapply! Every 2 hours is recommended by the FDA.

A lot of people are stingy with the sunscreen. Pros recommend applying 1 ounce of a cream, at a time for a child. That is about half an adult palm full.

Use broad-spectrum sunscreens, it will use this term on the bottle. These sunscreens protect the child against UVA & UVB rays. It's important to look for this, beyond the SPF rating. 

Reapply often (suggesting every 2 hours), I'm sure you've heard this before but sunscreens, no matter what the SPF, should be reapplied, particularly after swimming and toweling.

Make it a routine, applying sunscreen, this is the only way to make sun protection work on a long-term basis. You are busy and so is your kid. That means you should set aside a time everyday in the morning to apply sunscreen. This means both you and you child. Parents need sun protection also, and children learn from their parents.