The Importance of Good Sun Protection
We all need exposure to sunshine, for it helps us produce Vitamin D which our bodies need to absorb calcium for strong bones and teeth. However, for it doesn’t take much time in the sun to get the vitamin D you need. Kids particularly love to spend time in the sun, but they need to know of the dangers of over-exposure to the damaging rays of the sun.
Repeated unprotected exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays during childhood can cause serious health issues which can occur later in life, during adulthood. Among them are skin damage, skin cancer and other complications such as eye damage and immune system suppression. Taking the right precautions can greatly reduce a child’s chances of developing any of the above.
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Sun Exposure — Facts
Sunlight contains three types of ultraviolet rays: UVA, UVB, UVC, but only the former two reach us through our ozone layer.
These cause skin aging and wrinkling and contribute to skin cancer, such as melanoma. They penetrate the ozone layer of the earth and we are most exposed to this from sun exposure.
These rays are also dangerous and can cause sunburns, cataracts (clouding of the eye lens), and negative effects on the immune system. They also contribute to skin cancer. Most UVB rays are absorbed by the ozone layer, but enough of these rays pass through to cause serious damage.
Interestingly enough, if outings at the beach for instance is on the menu for a family, chances are, sun protection will be part of the plan. That’s why most incidences of sun damage occur as a result of incidental exposure during day-to-day activities, not from spending a holiday at a beach. UV rays travel through the clouds and reflect off roads, pavements, etc. Hence, kids are generally also unaware that they’re developing a sunburn, even on cloudy days. Awareness of the sun’s damaging effects is important so that kids will make an effort to either put on some sun protection or keep in the shade whenever possible.
Be diligent with sunscreen
There are many types of sunscreens available in the market, but what matters most is the degree of protection it provides from UV rays.
Look for SPF numbers on the labels of sunscreens. Select a product with a SPF of 30 or higher to prevent sunburn and tanning. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen, for they protect against UVA and UVB rays.
Remind kids to:
- Apply sunscreen generously — dermatologists recommend using 1 ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) to cover the exposed areas of the body.
- Reapply sunscreen often, about every 2 hours. Reapply after a child has been sweating or swimming.
- Apply sunscreen whenever they are spending time in the sun. For best results, apply it about 15 to 30 minutes before they go outside.
- Apply onto the ears, hands, feet, shoulders, and behind the neck.
- Protect lips with a SPF lipbalm.