Living Well: Learn not to burn; enjoy safe family fun in sun
May 22, 2018
Summer is right around the corner, which means a lot of fun in the sun. What's the best way to protect your kids from sunburn? As you likely know, sunburns increase your risk for skin cancer. The chance of developing melanoma nearly doubles for light-skinned children who get five or more sunburns, according to a study published in the journal Cancer.
Learn how not to burn.
• Limit your time in the sun to between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you do go out, wear plenty of sunscreen, and apply one ounce (two tablespoons) every two hours — and don't forget to reapply, especially after swimming. Water and sand reflect the sun's rays, so be extra vigilant when spending a day at the beach.
• Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) 15 SPF or higher sunscreen. It makes sense that an SPF of 30 is double the protection of an SPF 15, but it doesn't work that way. It's really just a few percentage points stronger — 15 provides 93-percent protection and 30 provide 97-percent protection.
"Sunscreen with SPF 15-30 that is broad spectrum is the best choice. Try to avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone," said Kevin Monahan, Pediatric Physician Assistant with Memorial Regional Health's Medical Clinic.
• Limit sunscreen use with infants 6 months and younger. "You can apply small amounts of sunscreen to babies 6 months and younger but only to primary areas that cannot be covered, such as cheeks, tips of ears, back of hands and feet," Monahan said.
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• Apply sunscreen every day to your face. Faces tend to burn easily, and even 15 minutes in intense Colorado sun can cause a burn.
• Take shade breaks. Shade breaks can take the form of sitting under a tree or umbrella, spending time indoors or slipping on long sleeves and a hat. Yet, don't count on clothing to provide complete sun protection. The average T-shirt is only worth 7 SPF. If you are headed outside for the day, it's best to apply sunscreen to your entire body.
"Limit your family's skin exposure by wearing hats, SPF clothing or light-weight cotton clothing and staying covered," Monahan added.
• Don't forget to reapply. It takes 30 minutes for sunscreen to be fully absorbed and ready to work, so get your kids lubed up well before you reach the beach or pool. Reapplication is just as important as that first application. Reapply every two hours.
"Even on cloudy and hazy days, you need to wear sunscreen and limit your sun exposure," Monahan said.
In honor of Don't Fry Day, May 27, vow to get into good sun habits this summer. MRH Medical Clinic – Pediatrics will be handing out small bottles of sunscreen June 4 through 8 to the first 50 families, so if you find yourself out and about near 785 Russell Street and you're in need of sunscreen, stop in!