Summer can be brutal when it comes to your skin – and even more brutal when it comes to your child’s skin. Did you know that most sun damage occurs in childhood? When wearing shorts or swimwear, your child’s skin needs protection from the sun’s damaging rays. Even exposure for a short time can do real damage.
A sunburn will leave your child’s skin warm, red and painful. It may also cause blistering, fever, chills, headache, and a general feeling of illness in more severe cases. But your child doesn’t have to be burned in order to be harmed by the sun. The effects of sun exposure are cumulative, which means that even moderate exposure during childhood can contribute to wrinkling, freckling and skin cancer later in life.
- Sunburn’s signs appear six to twelve hours after exposure. If your child’s burn is just red, warm, and painful, it can be treated at home by applying cool compresses to the burned areas or bathing the child in cool water. You also can give acetaminophen to help relieve the pain.
- If blisters, fever, chills, headache, or a general feeling of illness accompany the sunburn, call your pediatrician. Severe sunburn must be treated like any other serious burn; if it’s extensive, hospitalization may be required. The blisters may become infected, requiring treatment with antibiotics. Extensive or severe sunburn may also lead to heatstroke (dehydration and fainting).
Don’t assume that the sun is only a danger when it’s shining brightly. It’s not the visible light rays but rather the invisible ultraviolet rays that are harmful. It’s possible to be exposed to more UV rays on foggy or hazy days. Exposure is also greater at higher altitudes. And keep in mind that UV rays reflect off sand, water and snow.
- A good rule of thumb is to keep your child out of the sun during the hours of peakUV rays, between10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Use a sunscreen made for children with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, and apply it 15 to 30 minutes before going into the sun. No sunscreen is truly waterproof. It must be applied every one to two hours, particularly if your child spends a lot of time in the water.
- Babies under six months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight.
Stay sun-safe and have the most fantastic summer, ever!