Did you know that just 5 sunburns before the age of 20 can increase the risk of melanoma by more than 80%?
Pretty scary, right?! I know that I’ve failed myself when it comes to sun safety, especially in my younger years when you think you’re invincible and strive for that deep dark tan. Now that I’m older (and starting to see signs of sun damage), I’m taking steps to protect myself from further sun damage, and most importantly, protecting my children and their susceptible skin to sun damage.
Children are especially susceptible to sun damage due to their thin and lesser pigmented skin. At their young age, children’s skin has not fully developed its self-defense system to protect their skin from UV damage, so it’s especially important to take steps to prevent and slow down sun damage. By modeling and integrating smart and sun safety precautions at a young age, children grow up to model these behaviors and instill lifelong sun safety habits.
Below are the must-know terms and tips for keeping your family safe while having fun in the sun!
UVA vs. UVB
There are many different ultraviolet rays in sunshine. The ones that reach the Earth’s surface are ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B. Ultraviolet A rays are the ones that make skin tan while Ultraviolet B rays are the ones that cause sunburns. Research has shown that both have negative effects and can lead to skin cell damage. It’s imperative to protect your children (and yourself) from both types of UV rays with the use of a broad spectrum sunscreen.
SPF – Why Does Matter?
SPF, or sun protection factor, is an indicator of a sunscreens effectiveness to prevent sunburn and damage to the skin. If it takes your childs skin 10 minutes to redden without sunscreen, the use of a SPF 15 sunscreen would essentially prevent sun damage for 15 times longer (150 minutes). One thing to take note of: while sunscreen can block some UV rays, they cannot block 100% of them (you can still have skin damage with out redness occurring). Reapplying is incredibly important as is limiting the amount of time you spend in direct sunlight!
I personally choose to use La Roche-Posay Anthelios Dermo-Kids gentle sunscreen lotion on my children. I love its Cell X Shield Technology that not only provides broad spectrum with both UVA and UVB protection, but it also contains antioxidants (like Vitamin E) to help reduce UV-generated free-radical cell damage to cells. Anthelios sunscreen also doesn’t include any of the other nasties that can be found in some other brands, such as fragrance, parabens, oils, oxybenzone and retinal palmitate.
La Roche Anthelios also is super easy to apply and doesn’t irritate sensitive skin. When applying on little ones that are eager to get out the door to play, an easily applied sunscreen is an absolute must. It rubs on easily, isn’t greasy and doesn’t burn eyes (I may have accidentally got a little bit in a very antsy 3 year olds eyes). You can easily purchase La Roche-Posay products up at CVS (store locator) or Amazon. Check out their Cicaplast Baume B5 too. It’s a multi-purpose balm that I use for pretty much a little of everything when it comes to skin irritation: roughness, dry patches, post-procedure, redness, tightness and flakiness).
When To Use Sunscreen
Many people make the mistake of only applying sunscreen in the summer months and not nearly often enough. Even on cloudy days, many UV rays can reach Earth. Using at least an SPF 15 on a daily basis is a absolute must. When planning on being outdoors, be sure to apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside.
When applying, be sure to apply a thick layer on all exposed areas, and take caution to apply on commonly forgotten areas: tops of ears, back of knees, hands, top of feet and high point of forehead. Reapply at least every 2 hours and more often if swimming or sweating. Sunscreen should also be used year round and not just in the summertime. The combination of sun and snow can cause terrible burns with the reflection of sunlight coming off of the snow so be sure to protect exposed areas in the colder months as well.
Avoid High Times
If possible, avoid playing outside during times of intense sunlight (11am to 4pm) when the suns ray are the harshest. Wearing a wide brimmed hat, UV protected sunglasses and lightweight UV protected clothing is another step to take to provide additional protection. We have decked our backyard with a ton of large sun umbrellas for reprieve from the sun. There are amazing portable UV protected tents that are perfect when on the go (for example, sports tournaments, BBQ’s, beach days).
On days where I know we are going to be on the go nonstop or outdoors during the harshest hours of sunlight, I love using MY UV Patches from La Roche-Posay. MY UV Patches are a cutting edge innovation to help educate people to better protect their skin from the sun. A small transparent patch is applied on the skin and can provide real time updates on UV exposure. I love the reminders that are sent to my phone as they help monitor and prevent my family from too much sun exposure.
Take action and actively be aware of the signs and symptoms of skin damage on yourself and your loved ones. Join La Roche-Posay S.O.S. (Save Our Skin) mission against skin cancer. Continuously protect your skin on a daily basis, be aware of any changes in your skin (such as moles changing color or size) and stay safe when playing in the sunshine.
What steps do you take to prevent harmful sun exposure?