Welcome to Sun Safety Awareness Month. Time to remember that while we love to bask and play in the sun, it is important to protect our loved ones and ourselves from its harmful rays. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in America. One in five people is affected during their lifetime and each hour, one American will lose their life to skin cancer.
Everywhere you look there are products and tips on what to do to keep you safe. We’ve compared the lists and compiled a quick checklist for sun care.
#1: Oh Baby
Shield the smallest members of your family from the sun with covered strollers or umbrellas. While no SPF is recommended for infants under the age of 6 months, when it is unavoidable, choose a broad-spectrum with at least an SPF of 45, specifically designed for babies. Infants have sensitive skin and require more TLC and gentler formulas. These use physical barriers like titanium dioxide, rather than potentially irritating chemical ones and are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic.
They are available at different prices points based on formula and style of application. If your little one is going to be splashing around in the wading pool, be sure to use a water-resistant formula, which keeps doing its job even when wet. Reapplication is necessary once your child is back on dry land. Spray may seem like the easiest way to get SPF onto a toddler, but to get the protection promised on the outside of the bottle, you need to spray the same spot for six seconds. A quick spray only provides the equivalent of a SPF 7. Lotion is the best economical and effective option.
#2: Smart Application
Twenty minutes before heading out, apply SPF to give it time to absorb so it won’t slide off your (or their) soon-to-be sweaty body. Be sure you don’t miss the usual forgotten spots including ears, nape of the neck, backs of the knees, ankles, and armpits. Apply sunscreen one inch beyond the border of clothing to avoid hot spots.
After you apply a sunscreen, it’s ability to protect you from the sun only lasts for about two hours. Yes, only two hours. If you apply sunscreen at 9 a.m., it is no longer protecting you at 11 a.m. So, to be protected from sunburn, skin cancer, and aging, you need to reapply sunscreen every two hours. Keep a small bottle of SPF with you so you’re ready to reapply like a pro.
#3: Make Your Own Shade
Hats – Shapes and styles for everyone. √
Sunglasses – Ditto. √
Umbrellas – Rain or SHINE! √
Tents – Pop those puppies open. √
UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) Clothing? Maybe not in your closet yet but it exists…
SunGuard Sun Protection - A laundry additive that transforms clothes into UPF marvels for up to 20 washes. Perhaps something to consider during your next Google search.
#4. SPF Everyday
Use sunscreen even on days that you are not sitting in the sun or going to the pool. Many people think that they only “get sun” when they are at the pool or beach. Sunscreen should be applied everyday that you leave your home during the day to protect your skin. The study of sun damage has taught us that we get significant sun expose while doing everyday things like driving, walking or exercising outdoors.
Think sunscreen isn’t important? Think again! This man’s face makes a compelling argument for wearing sunscreen. Everyday. Delivery truck driver, Bill McElligott, 69, has unilateral dermatoheliosis; according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays transmitted through the window of his delivery truck have severely damaged the skin on the left side of his face during the 28 years he spent driving. As a result, the left side of McElligott’s face looks roughly 20 years older than the right. Taking an extra minute to protect your skin is worth saving your skin.
#5 Recovery 101
Mishaps happen to the best of us so if you do get sunburned, take steps to quickly soothe the pain and inflammation. Apply a topical 1 percent cortisone cream; consider taking Advil, and drawing them a cool bath with oatmeal bath (check with your pediatrician re: Advil and hydrocortisone with babies and children). If you see blistering or have chills/fever, consult your doctor or dermatologist as soon as possible.
Safety first! Now enjoy summer, free of burns of full of fun.