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Sun Safety

These hot summer days welcome beach goers for a cool dip in Lake Michigan. You can almost see the heat radiating off of the pavement these days.

It’s hard to believe that just a few short months ago, my doctor advised me to increase my Vitamin D. “The dark, gloomy winter…”, he said. He had been seeing a lot of patients with low Vitamin D. The vast majority of our Vitamin D comes from the sun. Our bodies rely on it to boost our immunities, strengthen our bones and support our heart’s health, among others.

As with so many things in life, too much of a good thing is bad for you, and sunshine is no exception. “It only takes one severe sunburn to potentially double your child’s chances of getting melanoma later in life,” says Andrea Cambio, MD, FAAD, a board-certified pediatric dermatologist who was interviewed by WebMD.

Whether you’re heading to the beach or planning a summer picnic, follow these recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics to keep your child safe from over-exposure to the sun:

  • Avoid the midday sun (10am – 4pm) whenever possible
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim that shades the neck and wear sunglasses that provide protection from 97% – 100% of UVA and UVB rays
  • Wear clothing with a tight weave.
  • Apply sunscreen with a broad spectrum SPF 15 or greater – even on cloudy days. Opt for waterproof and sweatproof sunscreen. Apply sunblock before dressing your child to minimize the risk that any areas could unintentionally be left untreated. Don’t forget the ears, foreheads, and top of feet. Reapply at least every two hours, and after swimming or strenuous activity. (Check with your pediatrician for sunblock recommendations to suit your child’s sensitivity.)
  • Children younger than 6 months should stay out of direct sun and be protected with a hat and proper clothing.

These tips are also wise for grown-ups. When we model healthy behaviors such as wearing sunblock, hats and sunglasses, our children are more likely to follow suit and continue practicing sun safety as teens and adults.

Because severe sunburns during childhood may increase one’s risk of melanoma, children should be especially protected from the sun, as reported by The American Academy of Dermatology (American Cancer Society, 2015)

While getting buried in the sand by giddy children is uncomfortable when the sand is sticking to your sunblock, all of you will be happy when you can sleep at night without the discomfort of a red-hot sunburn. Your skin will be happy, too.