4 sun-safety saboteurs and how to prevent them

As parents, we sure know a lot more about sun safety than we did as kids or young adults ourselves.  We want to remind you about the sun and your child.

Here are a few sun-protection thoughts from our pediatricians:

Dr. Rodger Elofson: 

      Over-reliance on sunscreen. Parents don’t always think about it this way, but Dr. Elofson will tell you that sunscreen is actually a third-line defense. Among the most effective ways to protect children from sun exposure is with clothing. While you can purchase swim shirts and other protective garments labeled with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF), any tightly woven materials generally block out more rays than lighter fabrics. In addition, remember to be most sun-cautious during peak hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If participating in outdoor activities between these hours, try to find a shady spot to work in some “sun breaks” throughout the day.

Dr. Dana Fakouri:

      Overlooked exposure. Easily missed or forgotten spots to cover include tops of feet; scalps (especially hair parts); and areas covered by dry swimsuits, but not so much once material gets waterlogged and/or full of sand. Just being aware of these vulnerabilities is half the battle, but I find the best way to handle the shifting-swimsuit scenario is to apply one good layer of sunscreen onto kids before they get dressed, going in a couple inches more than it looks to be necessary. Eyeballs themselves are also vulnerable to sun damage, so wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses are not just fashionable, but essential.

Dr. Fakouri would say your trip in the sun should be safe, but you have to look good.

Dr. Lori Cook:

      Being in a rush. It may feel as though slathering squirmy children in sunscreen takes forever, but it’s really just a few moments that can contribute to kids’ lifelong health. To make sure your efforts are not in vain, use a sunscreen that says “broad-spectrum,” with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 (up to 50). Sunscreen sticks can make facial application faster, but remember to blend and be more thorough than you’d think. Sunscreen should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before going outside—and reapplied every 80 minutes or sooner after swimming. Please don’t make the mistake of skipping your own sun-protection ritual to save time! Dr. Cook wouldn’t think of going to the beach without sunscreen protection.

Dr. Brannon Perilloux:

      Not making kids accountable. Although you shouldn’t rely on young children to pack protective items or apply sunscreen themselves (despite the hilarious photo-op potential!), it’s never too early to instill sun safety into their consciousness. Just talking about all of these topics with your children and as a family can help encourage good habits. Once understanding a rule, what kid doesn’t love to correct his or her parents when it’s not followed? In this situation, hearing, “Mommy, you missed a spot!” may be a valuable reminder.

In the event your child does get sunburned, Dr. Perilloux suggests a call to our office if you have any question about how to take care of your child and the sunburn.