Now that summer has finally arrived, here are some tips for protecting skin from insect bites and sunburns:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just a few sunburns during childhood can increase the chance of skin cancer later. To avoid skin damage:
• Plan indoor activities or time in the shade between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest.
• Encourage kids to wear clothing as protection—in addition to sunscreen—such as a T-shirt or long shorts. Be sure they wear a hat that covers their face, ears and neck. Find sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
• Find a sunscreen that contains an SPF of 15 or higher and offers both UVA and UVB protection.
• Research sunscreens carefully. According to the Environmental Working Group, many sunscreens contain chemicals that may pose health hazards or don’t adequately protect skin from the sun. Check out www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/special/sunscreens2008/ for more information.
To keep the bugs away:
• Dress your children in light-colored clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
• Avoid using scented soaps or lotions, since fragrances can attract insects.
• Bug repellent with DEET can be used, as long as the concentration is less than 30 percent.
• Since DEET is absorbed through the skin, try to apply much of it to clothing. Avoid open cuts and the hands of small children who may rub their eyes or put their fingers in their mouths. Wash off the repellent as soon as possible.
• Natural repellents can be made from plant oils like citronella or lemongrass, or even soybean oil. These may need to be reapplied more often than DEET repellents.