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How to Protect Your Child’s Skin

By , On , In Dr. Ben Wiese, Sunscreens

As a parent, you naturally want what’s best for your child. Many parents, however, aren’t aware of how important it is to protect your child’s skin from the sun. Even just a few severe sunburns can drastically increase your child’s risk of developing skin cancer later in life. When they’re too young to understand this, it’s your responsibility to keep them safe. 

Seek Out Shade

One of the most important things you can do to protect your child’s skin is to stay in the shade. Beach umbrellas and pop-up tents are two great ways to create a temporary shelter while at the beach or other outdoor location. You can also find portable sunscreens you can fold up to fit into a backpack. Because the sun’s rays are “strongest” during midday, try to avoid being outside if possible. Encourage your kids to play outdoors during the morning or early evening instead. 

Wear Protective Clothing

Long-sleeved shirts and long pants are another great way to protect your child’s skin from dangerous UV rays. Not all clothes, however, are created equal. Clothes made with tightly woven fabric provide the most protection. Once a shirt is wet, it offers less protection than a dry one. 

You should also encourage your child to wear a hat. While baseball caps are popular, they don’t offer full protection from the sun. Instead, opt for one that will shade the face, scalp, ears, and neck. 

Apply Sunscreen Regularly 

When your child is outside, make sure you apply sunscreen to them on a routine basis, regardless of whether it is sunny or cloudy. Apply the first coat of sunscreen a half hour before they go outside. Generously reapply the sunscreen every two hours or after your child sweats, swims, or towels off. Don’t forget commonly missed areas such as the lips, nose, and the tops of feet. 

Keep Infants Out of the Sun

Babies under six months old have highly sensitive skin, so you should do your best to keep them out of the sun. When you do take your baby outside, make sure it is before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. Dress them in lightweight clothing that covers their arms and legs and use a hat with a wide brim to shelter them from the sun’s rays. Babies don’t have as much melanin as adults and their skin is thinner, which means they burn even more easily. If you need to use a sunscreen for them, apply one with zinc oxide as the only active ingredient on small areas of their body. 

Protecting your child’s skin is very important. By finding shade, properly applying sunscreen, and ensuring that they have the right clothing, you will be able to keep them safe all year long.