Here in Texas, we have a love-hate relationship with the summer sun. It’s our best friend when we are enjoying family time outside, but it’s also a burden when temperatures climb higher and higher. It’s no secret sun damage can impact health in a number of ways. Most of the sun damage that has consequences later in life is actually due to childhood exposure, so it’s important to protect children from the sun and establish healthy sun habits early in life.
Get ready to bust out that sunblock and baseball cap! Here are some important steps to take that will reduce childhood sun damage:
- Kids should be encouraged to play outside daily, but focus on making outdoor time early or late in the day. The middle part of the day between 11 am and 5 pm can be the most intense sun exposure. In hot climates, it’s also more comfortable to be outside when the temperature is lower.
- Use sunscreen during all daylight hours, even when it’s cloudy outside. Any sun exposure that results in burning or tanning means damage has occurred. Tanning is not safe sun exposure—it causes damage just like burning does. Sunscreen reduces the possibility of those color changes, but must be used consistently and reapplied frequently. SPF should be at least 15. Since sunscreen takes some time to be absorbed into the skin to work properly, make sure it’s applied 15 to 20 minutes before sun exposure. Putting it on while standing in the sun may not be fully protective. Be generous with application. Make sure all adults are using sunscreen as well to model good habits that children will carry forward as they grow.
- Protect kids’ eyes. Using sunglasses increases comfort, but it’s also important to reduce exposure to UV rays. Hats that create some shade over the face are a great addition as well.
- Umbrellas and shade can help, but some sun does pass through umbrellas and trees. Don’t assume there is no chance of sun exposure while under shaded areas.
- A number of smartphone apps are available to help guide safe exposure. The apps use location and current conditions and can set timers for exposure and reapplication of sunscreen.
Urgent Care for Kids is the largest pediatric urgent care chain in Texas, serving families in the greater Austin, DFW, and Houston areas. Our goal is to provide every patient with the highest quality medical care and superior customer service at a time and location that is convenient to working parents. We accept all major commercial insurance plans and all Texas Medicaid and CHIP plans in order to best serve our patients and their families. To learn more about our locations, hours, and services we provide, please visit our website.