Before the Burn: Block the Sun for Safe Summer Fun

Children, on average, get three times more exposure to powerful and dangerous UV sun rays than adults.

Following these simple rules can protect your family from sunburns now, and from skin damage and skin cancer later in life:

• Keep babies younger than six months out of direct sunlight. Find shade under a tree, umbrella or stroller.

• When possible, dress in cool, comfortable clothing that covers the body.

• Some clothing is rated for Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) on a scale of 15 (good) to 40+ (excellent). Detergents with special additives may be washed into clothes to temporarily improve their UPF rating. Google “sun protective clothing” for many brand options.

• Wear a hat or cap with a brim that faces forward to shield the face.

• Limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is the time UV rays are strongest.

• Wear sunglasses with at least 99% UV protection.

• Use sunscreen that says “broad-spectrum” on the label to screen out both UVB and UVA rays.  Choose an SPF of at least 30.

• Use enough sunscreen to cover all exposed areas (about 1 to 2 ounces). Rub it in well.

• Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors.

• Remember that you can get sunburn even on cloudy days, and that UV rays can bounce back from water, sand, snow and concrete.

• Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours, more often after swimming or sweating heavily.   


A word about Vitamin D

It is a common misconception that unprotected exposure to UV rays is the best and only source for Vitamin D. Ingesting Vitamin D through the diet and/or supplements is a much safer and equally effective way of getting the daily required amount of Vitamin D  (600 IU), without putting yourself or children at risk for skin cancer.


by Dr. Jane Wilkov, M.D.