Fun in the sun without the burn
After a winter largely stuck inside due to the pandemic and the Canadian cold, we’re itching to get outside and enjoy the sun. We deserve it! Kids especially just want to burst the door down, run outside and jump into a pool, play sports, ride their bikes, skateboards and scooters, and have a great time. But we all have to remember that even if things do start to open up when it comes to pandemic safety, there’s still sun safety to keep in mind. After all, learning about proper sun protection can help lower your kids’ risk of developing skin cancer throughout their lives.1 So here are some tips to allow your kids to have fun in the sun without the burn.
- Shelter your baby: If you have a baby who’s six months old or younger, it’s best to keep their delicate skin out of the sun entirely. If they’re not under their stroller’s canopy, find shade or bring an umbrella.2
- Slap on the sunscreen: If the kids are going to be exposed to the sun’s rays for an extended period, The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.3 Apply it about 30 minutes before going outside, then reapply every two hours or right after swimming or sweating.
- Cover up: While many kids like to wear shorts and short-sleeve shirts or tank tops in the summer to keep cool, the more sun-safe option could be to wear lightweight cotton pants and long-sleeve shirts so more of their body is covered up. When you’re purchasing summer clothes, you can even look on the label to see if the clothing offers UV protection. A brimmed hat can help, too.2
- Slip on some shades: Whether they’re cool aviators or Peppa Pig sunglasses, protect your kids’ eyes from the sun with sunglasses that block as close as possible to 100% of the sun’s UVB and UVA rays.4
- Avoid the hottest hours: If you can, plan your activities outside of the hours where the sun’s UV rays are hottest, which is usually between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.5
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: Protection from the sun isn’t just about your skin. The heat, especially when combined with intense play, can cause dehydration, which can lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. So make sure the kids are well hydrated before they go outside, and continue to drink water while they’re playing.6
But what if the kids do get sunburned?
As parents, you try to do everything to protect your kids, but you’re only human, and so are they. Sunburns will happen. So what to do? If your baby’s especially sensitive skin gets sunburned, head straight to the doctor. The same can be said for older children if the sunburn is severe, resulting in blisters, pain and headaches.2 For less severe sunburns in older kids, you can give them pain medication, apply a cool, wet compress over the sunburn, or apply a soothing aloe vera lotion.7 Keep them out of the sun, away from hot showers or baths, and don’t apply lotions containing benzocaine.7
If you keep these tips in mind, your kids can have safer fun in the sun in 2021!
1cancer.ca, “Sun safety tips for babies and children,” 2021.
2healthychildren.org, “Sun Safety: Information for Parents About Sunburn & Sunscreen,” May 5, 2021.
3skincancer.org, “Ask the Expert: Does a High SPF Protect My Skin Better?” June 9, 2020.
4childrens.com, “Sun safety tips for kids,” December 15, 2020.
5gms.ca, “Sun Safety: Playing Safe in the Sun,” August 6, 2020.
6webmd.com, “Protecting Your Child From Dehydration and Heat Illness,” October 5, 2019.
7verywellfamily.com, “How to Treat Sunburn in Kids,” March 5, 2021.