We all know that sunscreen is important for protecting the skin from sunburns, which over time can lead to melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, but did you know that blistering sunburns prior to the age of 18 double this risk? This is why it is especially important to protect our kids while they are swimming and venturing outdoors as temperatures start to rise.
The best recommendations include limiting sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest and wearing a wide-brim hat to protect the face and neck. Infants younger than 6 months should be kept in the shade as much as possible. If your family is at the pool or the beach, these infants should be shaded under an umbrella or tree and should wear a wide-brim hat, long lightweight pants and swim shirt. Look for garments with a UPF (ultraviolet protective factor) of 15-50.
Like the rest of us, babies should wear sunscreen with at least SPF 30 on sun-exposed areas, but it should be limited to very small areas of the body in those under 6 months and used as a last resort to protect areas that cannot be shaded or covered. Sunscreens for these infants should be limited to products made primarily of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are not absorbed and are less irritating to the skin. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours and children should be given breaks from the sun. When at the beach, it’s also helpful to put a towel or blanket under the baby to minimize sun rays reflecting onto the baby’s skin from the sand.
In the case of sunburn, older children should be offered water to maintain hydration. All children can have a cool to lukewarm bath for comfort, acetaminophen for pain and topical lotions like Vaseline to help lock in moisture to the skin. Avoid irritating topical treatments like lidocaine. If you or your child experiences a severe burn, consult your primary care provider for more information or visit UofLHealth.org.