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Protect Your Kids from the Sun

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Guest blogger JJ Levenstein, MD, president of MD Moms, offers easy ways to protect kids under the bright summer sun.

While summer is the time for relaxation and fun, it's also time to think about sun safety. The most common type of skin cancer in the U.S. is caused by unprotected sun exposure; in fact, the majority of lifetime sun damage occurs before the age of 18. Did you know that just two or three blistering sunburns during childhood can double the risk of skin cancer later in life?

Here are Dr. Levenstein's practical tips to help reduce these risks:

  • Avoid direct sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when harmful UV radiation is at its peak. Stay in the shade if possible. Reapply sunscreen at two- to four-hour intervals if your child is dry, one- to four-hour intervals if swimming or wet.
  • Use enough sunscreen for effective protection--a shot glass worth is recommended per application. If a chemical sunscreen is used, apply it to your child's face and body, wait 20 minutes and re-apply--so that any missed spots are covered, and areas that wear against clothing or sweat get double coverage. Always patch test any new sunscreen on a small area of skin. Wash off or discontinue use if redness, itching or irritation occurs. And be sure to throw away sunscreen that's been collecting dust in your medicine cabinet. A good rule of thumb is that, if it's more than two seasons old, it has lost its potency.
  • Dress your child in UV-infused clothing--we like Cabana Life and the Wallaroo Hat Company. Or, use an SPF rinse on tightly woven cotton clothing to raise the SPF value from 5 (a regular cotton T-shirt) to SPF 30--for a great pick, try SunGuard Laundry Aid.
  • Your child should wear sunglasses that offer 99-100% blockage from ultraviolet rays (check for ANSI rated UVA & UVB protection). Also, remember to give them a hat with a wide brim that will shade the face and cover the ears.
  • Be diligent about consistent sunscreen use around the water, sand and snow as they all reflect the sun's rays, increasing the risk of sunburn. Baby Silk's Babysafe Sunscreen Towelette Singles are a convenient way to take sun protection on the go ... no matter the locale or temperature!
  • Babies--no matter how young--should be protected with a sunscreen that has at least a SPF15 and offers both UVA and UVB protection--if you can't avoid the sun altogether. In addition, due to the sensitivity of their skin, the ideal sunscreen should be one containing Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide (pure physical block ingredients). The sun's rays are reflected from the barrier on top of the skin.

"Safe sun" doesn't have to be a contradiction in terms. Know your sun facts, be prepared, and have fun!

For more from MD Moms, click here.

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