The 4th of July, swimming, summer camp and vacations bring many happy and busy times to you and your children each summer. Hot weather with a scorching sun go hand in hand. Sunburn and skin damage then follow. According to Dr. Andrea Cambio, MD Board-Certified Pediatric Dermatologist, “It only takes one severe sunburn to potentially double your child’s chances of getting melanoma later in life.”

Taking active preventative measures during summer – sun activities is an absolute necessity in assuring that you and your children will be protected from skin damage resulting in wrinkles and skin cancers as we age. Sunscreen protective clothing and limiting time in the sun are measures that will aide in maintaining healthy skin. Any suntan is unhealthy and is a sign of sun damage, according to Kelli Miller of WebMD.

SO, slather on the sunscreen making a game of it with your children 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. Teaching your children to spell BEENS will help them remember to apply sunscreen to the forgotten areas of the Back of Knees, Ears, Eye area, Neck and Scalp. Re-apply sunscreen every two hours, sooner if swimming. Choosing a child-friendly sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide is less irritating and does not get absorbed into the skin. These ingredients are considered the safest available at this time. A sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 or higher and is “broad-spectrum”, protecting against UVP, and UVB sunlight is the most beneficial.

A scented or colored sunscreen is fun for your child if they are not skin sensitive or have an allergic skin condition such as eczema. Sunscreen sticks are good for the face, as there is less dripping. When spraying sunscreen, cover your child’s face, or have them close their eyes and hold their breath for five seconds after completing application.

Clothing to guard against sunburn includes dark tightly woven material that covers all exposed skin. If you can see through thin, light material sun rays can also penetrate and burn. Pre-treated UPF (Ultra Violet Protection Factor) protective clothing can be purchased. Check the labels for care instructions, as the clothing will lose its UPF strength after being washed several times. For your clothing on hand, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends Sun Guard, a laundry additive with Tinosorb FD that provides instant protection of UPF30, lasting about 20 washings.

Wearing a hat, especially wide-brimmed, and sunglasses will protect your face and eyes from harmful rays. Before purchasing sunglasses, read about them to assure that they provide 100% protection against UVA and UVB rays. Polarized lenses reduce the glare of sunlight and ease eye strain. All infants, children and adults should protect their vision when ever outside whether it’s sunny or cloudy.

The Red Willow County Health Department reminds you that from 10am to 4pm, the sun’s rays are the most damaging. Be a good example for your children, always using sunscreen, protective clothing, hats and sunglasses when enjoying the summer sun.