Summer is around the corner with all its sunshine and warm glory. The sun is essential to mood and well-being and for vitamin D, but too much of a good thing can be detrimental. It is important, especially, to protect our children from the adverse effects of the sun.
Our Children consulted with Valley Medical Group dermatologist Tamar Zapolanski for her expert advice on the topic.
Our Children: What is the best way to protect a child’s skin during the summer?
Dr. Tamar Zapolanski: Children are especially vulnerable to sunburn during the summer months because they spend so much time doing outdoor activities during the time when they are usually in school during the year. It is important to have a sun protection plan in place. A complete plan includes regular sunscreen application, wearing sun protective clothing and hats, and seeking shade when possible. An easy way to avoid the strongest sun is to plan the day around eating lunch indoors. Morning activities starting early and later afternoon activities after the sun has moved tend to avoid the strongest rays. This correlates to being indoors between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when possible. Planning days and activities appropriately can prevent sunburns.
Our Children: Are cloudy days as dangerous as sunny days?
Dr. Tamar Zapolanski: It is important to be vigilant on cloudy and overcast days as well as sunny days. The UV light can penetrate through clouds. At times, cloudy days are deceiving because the temperature may be less hot, and children stay out for longer periods.
Our Children: Should a parent use a pediatric product? How much SPF is enough?
Dr. Tamar Zapolanski: The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using an SPF of at least 30. There are many products available now that are 30 or 50 and up. A dedicated pediatric product is not necessary. Children with sensitive skin should opt for products with mineral sunscreens — namely zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These products are often labels as being for sensitive skin or for children/babies.
Our Children: How often should sunscreen be applied? What about swimwear? Hats, etc.?
Dr. Tamar Zapolanski: Sunscreen requires application every 2 hours or after water exposure. Sun protective clothing and hats are a wonderful complement to sunscreen in a comprehensive sun protection plan. The products have a UPF rating — such as UPF 50+. When holding these items of clothing up to the sun the light should not be visible through the fabric.
Our Children: What about using sunglasses to protect eyes?
Dr. Tamar Zapolanski: Sunglasses are helpful to protect the eyes from the sun. Quality products have a rating of “UV 400.” This guarantees most harmful rays are blocked.
Our Children: What should parents be on the lookout for pediatric
Dr. Tamar Zapolanski: Parents should be mindful of changes on their children’s skin during the summer months. They should monitor children for sunburn, as well as for rash and irritation from product use, and for insect bites. Any new rashes or lesions that do not resolve warrant evaluation.