July 1, 2023 // by Dr. Eleni Karagiannis

Summer is a wonderful time for children to enjoy the great outdoors. Between swimming, biking, hiking, camps and sports, kids will be outside many hours a day. Here are some great tips on summer skin safety, from BCHP pediatrician, Dr. Eleni Karagiannis.

  1. UV rays can penetrate clouds and even windows in your car and house. It's important to protect your child's skin, even on cloudy days and during car rides. Apply sunscreen to exposed areas, even if you plan to stay indoors.
  2. Don't forget the scalp, ears, and feet. These areas are often overlooked but are just as susceptible to sun damage. Make sure to apply sunscreen or cover these areas with protective clothing and hats.
  3. Some fabrics offer more sun protection than others. Look for clothing with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating, which measures the amount of UV radiation that can pass through the fabric. Darker colors and tighter weaves tend to offer more protection. A UPF rating of 30-49 is considered good protection. Any clothing with a protection factor of 50 or above is considered excellent.
  4. When using insect repellant on young children, choose a DEET concentration of 30% or less. Avoid using repellents all together on infants younger than two months old. Using EPA-registered insect repellents, which can be found using the EPA's search tool, can help ensure their safety and efficacy. Remember to use repellents sparingly, apply only on exposed skin, and wash them off thoroughly after outdoor activities.
  5. Sunscreen can expire. Make sure to check the expiration date on your sunscreen and replace it regularly. Expired sunscreen can be less effective and may not provide adequate protection.
  6. Encourage your child to wear sunglasses. Sunglasses can protect your child's eyes from UV radiation, which can lead to cataracts and other eye problems later in life. Look for sunglasses that offer 100% UVA and UVB protection.
  7. The sun's rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try to plan outdoor activities for earlier or later in the day when the sun's rays are not as strong.
  8. Water, sand, and snow can reflect the sun's rays and increase the risk of sunburn. Use extra caution when your child is playing near these reflective surfaces.
  9. Not all sunscreen is created equal. Look for a sunscreen that is labeled "broad-spectrum," which means it protects against both UVA and UVB radiation. Additionally, physical sunscreens (which contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) tend to be gentler on sensitive skin than chemical sunscreens.
  10. Sunscreen should be applied at least 15-30 minutes before going outside to give it time to absorb into the skin. Make sure to apply it generously, and don't forget to reapply every 2 hours (or more often if your child has been swimming or sweating).

By following these tips, parents can help ensure that their children enjoy a safe and healthy summer, free from the harmful effects of the sun. Remember, when it comes to skin safety, it's better to prevent skin damage than to treat it later on.