12 Tips to Protect Your Family’s Skin This Summer

Corralling my kids long enough to slather the recommended golf ball-sized amount of sunscreen all over their skin is no easy task.  Their wriggling and writhing combined with the sunscreen’s greasiness make it messy and challenging.

But it’s worth the extra effort because just one blistering sunburn before the age of 18 more than doubles their chances of developing melanoma in adulthood.

I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count how many people I personally know that have had some form of skin cancer.  In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, more than 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed in this country each year.

So what are the best ways to protect your family’s skin this summer? Faye Eifert, MSN, CNP, a nurse practitioner in our Division of Dermatology, shared 12 tips with me:

 12 Tips to Protect Your Family’s Skin This Summer

  1. Use a sunscreen with SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 30 or greater. Look for the following ingredients in a sunscreen:  Parsol 1789 (Avobenzone), Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide.
  2. Apply sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection 20 minutes before going outside. This allows the sunscreen to take effect before sun exposure.
  3. Apply waterproof sunscreen if your child will be swimming or sweating.
  4. Reapply (including waterproof sunscreens) every 2 hours at minimum, even on cloudy days. This is especially important when swimming or sweating.
  5. Keep babies younger than six months out of the sun. It can irritate their skin and their eyes are particularly sensitive.
  6. Dress your child in sun-protective clothing that lists the garment’s SPF. Alternatively, children can wear lightweight, long-sleeved pants or shirts in addition to a wide-brimmed hat for protection. Here are two examples of websites for sun-protective clothing: sunprecautions.com and llbean.com.
  7. Limit outdoor playtime between the hours of 10am and 4 pm. This is when the sun’s rays are the strongest and most damaging to the skin.
  8. Utilize umbrellas, trees, shadows and picnic shelters for sources of shade.
  9. Have your child wear sunglasses while outside, playing sports, or at school. A UV coating can be added to prescription glasses or contact lenses.
  10. Some medications can make your child more susceptible to sunburns, such as antibiotics (ex: doxycycline) and Retin-A.
  11. Speak with camp counselors, teachers, coaches, and designated caregivers to ensure they follow the guidelines above.
  12. Avoid tanning beds and booths. They’re NOT Safe. They deliver UVB light, which contributes to the development of skin cancer and photo damage.

In addition to outdoor skin protection, Eifert says it’s also important to examine your kids’ skin every 2-3 months (or as recommended by your doctor). Most children will develop new moles over time, which is considered normal. You can reduce the development of new moles by following the sun protection guidelines above.

She also mentions to notify your child’s doctor if you observe changes in size, shape, color, or texture of any existing moles, as well as itching, pain, bleeding, irritation, crusting. Moles that grow faster than your child, develop areas of different color, are asymmetric or have fuzzy borders, should be evaluated.

Protecting young skin can be a challenging process, but since none of my kids have received a sunburn, I consider it time well spent. And because they still view sunscreen application as cold, slimy torture, I like to remind them that they’ll appreciate all of the extra prevention measures when they’re older.  My 4-year-old usually responds with, “Like when I’m 8 years old?”

Yes, and then some.

Rachel Camper

About the Author: Rachel Camper

Rachel enjoys her role in social media because she not only gets to share inspirational stories and helpful information with other parents, but she learns all sorts of useful tips along the way! A mother of two highly energetic boys and an infant girl, Rachel enjoys cooking for her family, running with and after her lively kids, and (much needed) relaxing with yoga.

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