Does your kid love to spend time in the sun? Are you worried about how the sun exposure can damage your child’s health? If you said yes, then you might want to read our post. Here, we talk about sun safety for kids.
The Need for Sunlight:
Humans need sunlight for their vitamin D requirements. The exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays initiates a photosynthetic reaction in the skin. The process synthesizes vitamin D that the body can absorb. Without adequate vitamin D, the human body can’t absorb enough phosphorus and calcium from the diet, and it can lead to weak bones. For children, low vitamin D levels can mean a higher risk of rickets, a condition that affects bone growth and causes bone deformities .
[ Read: Types Of Heat Rash In Children ]
Sun Exposure Risks:
Sun exposure is essential. But overexposure to UV rays can cause skin damage. UVA rays can easily pass through the protective ozone layer of the atmosphere and can cause wrinkles and increase the risk of skin
Here are some health risks caused by sun overexposure.
Overexposure to UV rays can cause sunburn on the skin. The condition is characterized by painful and pinkish/reddish skin, dizziness and fatigue.
[ Read: Natural Remedies For Sunburns In Kids ]
- Skin Cancer:
Overexposure to UV rays can cause skin cancer. Non-melanoma cancers such as basal cell or squamous cell often respond to medical treatments and do not usually spread to other areas of the body. The tumors often appear on the neck or the hands. Melanoma is less common but most dangerous form of skin cancer. It can spread to other areas of the body . Melanoma may look like a new mole or change the appearance of an existing mole .
- Eye Damage:
UV rays also harm the eyes, and long-term sunlight overexposure can cause cataract, macular degeneration and retinal damage later in life. Short-term UV ray exposure causes redness in the eyes and makes the eyes oversensitive to light. Melanoma can also occur in the eyeball and basal cell on the eyelids.
- Weakened Immune System:
Overexposure to sunlight also weakens the immune system. This further increases the risk of cancers, autoimmune diseases and infections .
- Excessive Tan:
Sun exposure causes skin darkening or tanning, which is skin damage. Excessive tan can cause premature skin aging and increase the risk of cancer.
Measures On Sun Safety For Kids:
Most children get their lifetime worth of sun exposure by their late teen years. Summer months mean time out in the swimming pool, beaches and outdoors. Outdoor school activities can also mean overexposure to UV rays and that too at peak sun hours. Harm from UV ray can also occur during winters and when it’s cloudy.
Extra sun protection is imperative in areas near the equator and at higher altitude regions. Water, snow and concrete act as reflective surfaces for UV rays. Therefore, be extra careful with sunlight protective measures if your kids play these areas and surfaces. Kids can also suffer damage akin to sunlight exposure through artificial sources of UV rays such as tanning equipment and welding tools.
Here are some tips on sun protection for kids.
- Wherever possible help your kid avoid venturing out during peak sunlight hours, i.e. from 10 am to 4 pm. Use ample sun protection if you need to take him out at this time especially around midday.
- It is important for your kid to use a sunscreen everyday especially when he is outdoors. The sunscreen must provide protection from both UVA and UVB rays and must have a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15. The higher the SPF, the more it takes for the UV rays to cause the damage. Sunscreen with SPF 15 means the sun protection is 15 times higher than it is without its application .
- It is best for kids to wear dark-colored clothes and fabric materials with compact weaves as they offer more protection from UV rays. Cotton and cotton-polyester blends block out at least 95% of UV rays. Wet cloths offer less UV protection .
- If your child spends a lot of time in the sun, he should wear sunglasses. Wide frames are best if they filter out both UVA and UVB rays. Gray lenses without any distortion and that block at least 75% of visible light are other considerations when buying sunglasses.
- Use hats and scarves to protect your kid from the sun.
[ Read: Symptoms Of Dehydration In Children ]
The Right Way to Use Sunscreen:
So, now that you know how to keep your little one free from sun damage let’s look at the right way to use safe sunscreen for kids.
- Sunscreen application must be at least 15-20 minutes prior to sun exposure. Reapply sunscreen every 2-3 hours if your child is outside in the sun or after a swimming session even if the sunscreen is a water-resistant formula.
- Lips can also suffer from sun damage. For children use lip balms with SPF of 15 to 30.
- In case your child suffers from skin allergies after a certain sunscreen use, ask his doctor to recommend a medicated formula that suits his skin.
- Avoid the use of sunscreen sprays as kids can breathe in the chemicals during its application. Creams and lotions are best bets in terms of sunscreen.
- Apply sunscreen on all exposed body parts such as feet, behind the ears, back of the neck, armpits, and legs. Don’t limit its application to the face.
[ Read: Remedies For Dry Skin In Children ]
Food For Sun Safety For Children:
Eating the right food can help minimize damage from sunburns and other risks of sun overexposure.
- Foods high in antioxidants such as vitamin C and omega-3s protect the skin.
- Oily fish like salmon and tuna, blueberries, bright yellow, red and orange vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin and peppers are good sources of antioxidants.
- Certain natural food sources of vitamin D are milk, eggs, oily fish, meat, and mushrooms. Certain foods like breakfast cereals, dairy products, and infant formula are fortified using vitamin D.
[ Read: Foods To Boost Immunity In Kids ]
Encourage kids to follow sun safety measures from a young age. It will not only protect their health but also reinforce sun safety habits for life.
What safety measures do you take to protect your kid from the sun? If no, start teaching kids about sun safety rite now. Please share your ideas and tips with us here.
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