Sunny days are great allies for children and adults that want to enjoy their summer holidays. Water, towels and sun umbrellas become a synonym of happiness, together with wonderful scenery with long summer days where the sun is the main character.
But, even though the sun has plenty of benefits for our bodies, it also comes with risks and dangers, especially for the children.
- How can we protect children from the negative effects of the intense, direct sunlight?
If the skin is excessively exposed to the sun or it’s exposed without the right protection, it can cause lots of damage, in some cases irreparable. That’s why it is important to control the amount of time children are directly exposed to the sun, and make sure they’re safe from solar radiation.
To fully enjoy a summer day on the beach or at the pool, there’s a series of recommendations that all parents should take into consideration to keep their little ones safe.
First, it’s important to know that it’s not good for babies younger than 6 months to be exposed to the sun. At this stage in their lives, their skin is very sensitive and they haven’t yet developed the appropriate mechanisms to protect their skin from sunlight.
On top of that, babies this young can experiment sunburn and can dehydrate easily, and it’s not convenient to apply sun lotion to their skin since it could cause an allergic reaction.
It’s encouraged to keep them in the shade, protected from sunlight and heat, especially in the middle of the day where the sun is at its strongest. It’s also advisable to cover them with light fabrics if needed, and use sunglasses and umbrellas.
From the sixth month on, children can be exposed to the sun but only for a short period of time. However, it’s still essential to avoid the hottest part of the day when the sunlight impacts more directly.
- What about sunscreens?
Products specially formulated for children have physical mineral filters that protect them from UVA rays and infrared rays, and are waterproof, scratch resistant, heat resistant, and sweat proof.
Babies sunscreens aren’t really that different from the ones made for adults. The main different usually are that they’re fragrance free and have mineral blockers -such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide- which are gentle to their skin and eyes. These inorganic ingredients reflect and scatter the ultraviolet radiation, keeping skin safe.
Now, when choosing the right sun lotion is key for parents. The ideal for children is to choose one that has an SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, of 30 or more. This number is a measure of how well the sunscreen will protect from UVB rays.
It’s even better to choose a lotion that also protects from UVA rays, which are usually referred to as broad-spectrum sunscreen. Zinc oxide is a key ingredient for these, since it provides excellent protection from both types of UV rays.
Remember to apply it generously, on dry skin, and using the correct amount of product to cover the whole body and to reapply it every two hours.
- How to choose the best baby sunscreen
Creams, sprays, gels, sticks, lotions, milk or oils. The market offers different options of sun creams that our children can use. But, which one is the best for children? When we go to the supermarket to buy one, the shelves are filled with products that can make getting the right one a complicated task.
Keeping all the information about how to choose the right sunscreen for children in mind, here’s a summary of the things you must consider:
- Choose one that specifically says it’s for children since it’ll have the right formula for sensitive skin
- Choose those with mineral filters like zinc oxide which offer broad spectrum protection
- Only use sun protection lotions in children older than 6 months
- Choose a high protection factor, preferably SPF30
- The best sun creams have a greasy texture which tend to soak into the skin more rapidly
Now that you’ve chosen the best sunscreen for your little one, remember that there are some recommendations to follow for an even safer exposure to the sun:
- Apply 30 minutes before being exposed to the sun
- Remember to reapply it every 2 hours
- Apply the right amount of sunscreen: at least 2 milligrams per square centimeter of skin
- Cover the whole body
- It’s best to apply it on dry skin
- Don’t expose children who are under 6 months old
- Start to protect from the sun in spring
- Avoid the hours of the day with more direct sunlight
- Look for natural shading to guard your family from the sun
- Use hats, sunglasses, and lip balm
- Be careful when it’s cloudy too!
The best choice when it comes down to spending a day at the beach or the pool with the family is to keep the protection of our children’s skin under control.
Also, remember to instill these great self care habits into your little ones so they can learn how to take care of their own skin in the future.
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