July is UV Safety Month. We love seeing our kids running around and having fun outside, but we need to take necessary steps to keep them safe. July is typically a very hot month here in Indiana, and thus, the UV rays are at it’s harshest levels. The following blog entry gives tips and helpful information on how to keep your child safe, but still allows them to have fun outside.
How can we protect our children from the sun?
There are plenty of different ways you can protect your child. First, the sun’s UV rays are at its strongest levels between 10 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. So, it’s best for your child to be outside either in the morning or the evening.
When possible, try to keep your child in the shade. This will keep the UV rays out of sight to allow your child to enjoy being outside without the risk of sun burn.
Keep sun glasses and a wide-billed hat near by, as these items will also be able to protect your child. Children should be dressed in lightweight, cool and comfortable clothing. Believe it or not, but dark clothing is usually the best, as it eliminates the ability for the UV rays to reach the skin. Obviously, when you have exposed skin, use sunblock and sunscreen.
What is the difference between sunscreen and sunblock?
So often, these two terms are used interchangeably; however, there is a difference. Sunscreen actually absorbs UV radiation and dissipates it as heat. Sunblock acts as a physical barrier that reflects the UV radiation off the skin. Many products designed for children (and adults alike) usually contain a combination of both.
What does SPF stand for and how effective is it?
SPF states for “sun protection factor”. All sunscreen and sunblock will have a factor, or number, attached to signify how strong the product is. When applied appropriately, SPF 15 will absorb approximately 93% of the sun’s UV rays. In other words, 7% of the rays will still reach your skin. SPF 30 will absorb 97% and SPF 50 will absorb 98%. Anything higher than SPF 50 will have limited results compared to SPF 50, as it can only protect so much of the UV rays. We do recommend using at least SPF 30 on your children.
How much sunscreen should I use on my child
Use a LOT! So often, people only use about half of what they actually require. Make sure you cover all exposed areas, paying very close attention to areas that people tend to miss, such as the tops of their feet, back of their hands, along the hairline, and their ears. Make sure you apply the sunscreen at least 15 minutes prior to sun exposure to allow it to absorb into the skin.
What about babies?
Babies younger than 6 months have very sensitive skin. We recommend that infants be kept out of direct sun as much as possible. If they are going to be exposed, use an infant sunblock with at least SPF 30.
Now, my child suffered a sun burn — what do I do?
You can care for sunburns by applying a cool compress and aloe vera gel on the exposed areas. You can also administer ibuprofen to help relieve and discomfort (for children older than 6 months).
If you have concerns, please do not hesitate to call our office at 317-297-3507!