By Lisa Yang, ND
The summer season has begun early this year in Seattle. We have had many beautiful sunny and warm days in the past few weeks. As summer vacation is starting, you may have planned trips to sunnier places, summer camps for kids, and numerous summer BBQs. Summer fun has begun, and as you make lists for packing, sun safety should be at the top of that list!
The sun provides two main types of ultraviolet light, UVA and UVB. UVA plays a major part in skin aging and wrinkling. UVA radiation can penetrate the skin deeper than UVB rays. UVB is the chief cause of skin reddening and sunburn, tends to damage the skin’s more superficial layers. The most significant amount of UVB generally hits the between 10am to 4pm. (1)
Look for shade
A sunburn is damage to the skin, and serious sunburns can increase your child’s risk for skin cancer later in life. Finding a shady spot on the grass is a great way to avoid ultraviolet rays especially when its the strongest during midday. Bring an umbrella to the beach or a pop-up tent to provide protection. Use these options as much as you can to prevent sunburn.
For infants under 6 months- they should be kept out of the direct sun as much as possible. So finding shade or bringing supplies to make your own shade is very important.
Wearing long sleeve shirts, long pants, and skirts are great way to provide protection. Sticking with clothing made from cotton can also provide cooling properties. When at the beach, wearing long sleeve shirts and pants may not be feasible, so consider a beach cover up or a T-shirt.
Hats are also great options for protecting the scalp, face, ears, and back of the neck. Canvas material may provide the best protection because the material is tightly woven and won’t let UV rays through any holes. If your child wears a baseball cap, it is important to protect the ears and back of the neck by wearing clothing that can cover those areas, apply sunscreen, or seek shade
Protect the eyes
Sunglasses are more than just an accessory, they play a large role in reducing protecting from UV rays as well as reducing the risk of cataracts. Sunglasses are able to block both UVA and UVB rays.
The Environmental protection agency recommends using a broad spectrum sunscreen with the minimum of SPF 15 before going outside. Please be aware that a sunscreen with SPF30 does not make it twice as protective as SPF15. SPF of 15 protects the skin from 93 percent of UVB radiation and a SPF 30 provides 97 perfection protection (2).
How to use sunscreen:
1. Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going out into the sun to give it time to absorb into the skin.
2. Re-application is important with use of sunscreen especially if your child is swimming, sweating, or drying off with a towel.
Picking a good sun screen:
1. Avoid oxybenzone. This is a synthetic estrogen that disrupt the hormone production if penetrated through the skin. Look for products with zinc oxide, 3% avobenzone or Mexoryl SX for UVA protection
2. Zinc oxide give protection against both UVA and UVB according to the FDA
3. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a great guide for safe sunscreen for all purposes. Here they will grade the product and safety of its ingredients. http://www.ewg.org/2015sunscreen/
It is very important to keep your child hydrated and nourished while playing in the sun. You can make water fun by placing frozen or fresh berries in the water to add an extra fun summer taste. This way your child will get in some antioxidants and vitamins with their water. Also consider coconut water, or natural electrolyte mixes to keep then hydrated. Popsicles made with coconut water and frozen blueberries can also be tasty hydrating treat when the weather gets even warmer.
If you have any further questions regarding protection from the sun or your child’s health, please make and appointment with your doctor. We are here to serve you. Now, go have fun in the sun!
Vital Kids Medicine, PLLC
3216 NE 45th Place suite #212
Seattle, WA 98105