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Protecting kids in the sun: What every parent should know

Children’s skin is more vulnerable to the sun than adults’. In fact, 50 to 80% of UV-related damage occurs during childhood and adolescence*.  And sun protection isn’t just for the holidays. Children are exposed to UV rays during all outdoor activities: playing in the park, the school playground, sports… Plus did you know that UVA can even pass through glass & cloud?

When children get too much sun, they can develop sunburn. This is very painful in the short-term, but the long-term effects are all the more worrying: 5 blistering sunburns before the age of 20 can increase the risk of melanoma by 80%**

It is therefore essential to find smart ways to protect your children’s skin from the potential harm caused by sun exposure. Don’t forget that sun exposure is incremental: every little counts, and it can all add up to increase their skin cancer risk over time. The good news? By teaching your child sun-safe behaviors today, you are actively protecting their skin’s health in the future.


What sun protection to use for my children under 3:

Babies and toddlers under 3 should have no direct sun exposure whatsoever. Always keep them in the shade with protective clothing and broad-spectrum sun protection on any exposed areas of can represent a risk. Infants under 6 months of age should be completely kept out of the sun, as their skin is too fragile for sun exposure.


When and how to use sunscreen to protect my children:

Children’s skin should be protected with a broad-spectrum UVA-UVB protection product of at least SPF 50+ when out in the sun, or even when out in cloudy weather. Sunscreen should be applied before outdoor activities and should cover all exposed areas. A few pointers to remember:

  • We often use far less than we should: As a general rule of thumb, a golf ball-sized amount of sunscreen is needed to protect the whole body.
  • Frequently forgotten areas: ears, nose, lips, back of the neck, hands and feet.
  • Sunscreen should be re-applied every 2 hours to ensure optimal protection, or after swimming or excessive sweating.


Teach kids sun-smart behaviors:

Protection isn’t just about sunscreen. Teaching your kids smart behaviors will help them stay safer in the sun:

  • You can manage their sun exposure with a playful wearable tool. It is My UV Patch, a connected device with a ludic mobile app that must be used with a very high protection.
  • Seek shade between 10 am and 4 pm. Teach children to “read their shadow” and stay in the shade if their shadow is smaller than they are. Shade can be provided by trees, parasols, pop-up tents…
  • Show your kids how to apply sun protection like a superhero and always remember to re-apply regularly.
  • Wear protective clothing including long-sleeved t-shirts and trousers in tightly woven, dark-colored fabrics, wide-brimmed hats (ideal to protect the face, ears and neck) and wrap-around sunglasses with UVA-UVB protection.


When having fun in the water:

All of the above tips apply, with but extra precautions are needed at the beach because water and beach sand reflect the sun’s rays:

  • Children love the water so be sure to use a sun protection product specifically designed for application on wet skin to guarantee constant protection.
  • Bring along a beach umbrella or tent and use protective clothing.
  • Opt for sun protection swimwear: high-UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) swim shirts, bathing suits that cover more skin such as one-piece suits, and longer swim trunks.

* Robinson JK et al. Summertime sun protection used by adults for their children. J Am Acad Dermatol 2000
** American Association for Cancer Research Press Release. May 29, 2014
http://www.aacr.org/Newsroom/Pages/News-Release-Detail.aspx?ItemID=553#.WKyFqxLhAvo

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