Summer is in full swing and kids will undoubtedly be spending more time outdoors for the next couple of months. This means wearing sunscreen is essential to protecting your child. When selecting an appropriate sunscreen, it is important to understand the differences between the types of ultraviolet radiation: UV-B light and UV-A light. Parents should purchase broad-spectrum products that will protect against both forms of ultraviolet light.
UV-B light is the type of ultraviolet light that causes sunburns. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a measure of effectiveness against UV-B rays. In contrast, research over the last few years has suggested that UV-A light is the most likely culprit in the development of skin cancer. It also plays a role in the aging of skin. There is a star rating system that measures a product’s protection against UV-A light.
In general terms, the higher the SPF, the more protection a product offers. Products with an SPF rating of 30 block out about 93% of all UV-B rays. Products with an SPF rating of 50 block out about 97% of all UV-B rays. About one ounce of sunscreen should be applied prior to sun exposure and then every two hours to ensure maximal protection. Applying sunscreen as suggested, a typical bottle should last about two days!
Infants younger than one year should be kept out of direct sunlight. Of course, limiting sun exposure during peak times, from 10 am – 4 pm; wearing hats and sunglasses; and wearing clothes that do not allow much light through can also aid in protecting from overexposure to the sun’s rays.
Let your child enjoy the outdoors safely this summer: be sure they apply sunscreen daily!
Noel Alonso, MD, FAAP, After Hours Pediatrics Urgent Care.