Sunshine is both friend and foe when it comes to summer fun. In less than 15 minutes, your child could be scorched by invisible UV radiation, even on a cloudy or cool day. Burns are not only painful, they can lead to a whole other set of problems such as swelling and blistering, dehydration and fever, and worse, adult skin cancer, since skin damage caused by the sun is cumulative. Stay safe this summer by following these seven summer sun care basics:
1 Limit exposure to the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when rays are strongest.
2 Dress appropriately for sun exposure. Long-sleeved surfer-style "rash guards" and longer swim shorts will protect your little fish.
3 Always have extra wide-brimmed sun hats on hand (carry extras in your glove compartment, diaper bag, purse, trunk).
4 Encourage your child to wear UV-protective sunglasses. For babies, make sure their stroller has a protective canopy.
5 Bring a sun-protective tent or umbrella to the beach. Try to maximize your beach and pool time during the early a.m. hours or after 4 p.m. when it's easier to avoid the sun (and the crowds are gone!).
6 Use a waterproof, broad-spectrum sunscreen designed for children. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF of at least 15. For babies, use SPF 30 or higher (although it's best to simply keep babies well-covered with sun-protective hats and clothing or out of the sun altogether). Follow the cue of beach lifeguards and cover up sun sensitive spots such as the nose and lips with zinc oxide.
7 Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure; reapply every two hours.
Amy Bizzarri is a mom of two living in Logan Square. She also blogs at tiramisumom.com.
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