What you are about to read is a true story, however, the names have been changed to protect the innocent. Who am I kidding? This is a story about my husband. Just last week we went to Oaks Park with our family and he failed to put sunscreen on. Yes, I’m putting him on blast! Mind you, I did strongly suggest to him once we arrived, “Hey, you should probably put on some sunscreen. I also packed the bucket hat for you because it’s about 95 degrees today.” He replied, “No, I’m good.” As the morning progressed, we found ourselves standing in line for go karts with the sun blazing directly onto his neck and shoulders. I repeated, “Put on some sunscreen! You are going to burn!” What did he do? He poo-pooed my suggestion and said, “Nah, I’m good.” For those of you who know my family, my husband if extremely fair-skinned. And I will quote what his doctor has repeatedly told him, “The sun is your enemy. Use sunscreen!” So where am I going with this story? My point is. . .as a mom, wife, family CEO, fixer of all things broken in the house. . . please listen to us when we recommend that the use of sunscreen is NOT negotiable. My husband paid dearly for it the following morning waking up to a beet purple neck and face. I swear I could hear him whimpering in the shower for the next few days. As for myself and my three kiddos that day, we were prepared for the expected sun exposure. We wore breathable long sleeve, dri-fit clothes, wide brimmed hats, and made sure to slather tons of sunscreen on exposed skin.
The warm weather we are having is like an open invitation to be outdoors, which I absolutely love. I’d do just about anything to keep the kids in fresh air, moving their bodies, NOT getting sucked into any screen time. However, it would be negligent to send kids outdoors into the sunshine without preparing them for the element. Just like we’d never send kids out to play in the snow without gloves, hats, boots, and a warm jacket. . .we have to protect them from the dangerous rays of the sun. Here are some helpful tips to remember in order to properly protect you and your family from sun exposure:
- According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, an estimated 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. I have 5 people in my family so this hits home for me. I look at the people I love and think, “Either myself, my husband, or one of my 3 kids may get skin cancer.” Talk about a punch to the throat! My children have grown up with sunscreen application as being non-negotiable. Yes, it’s a greasy and we have to wait for it to dry but the alternative is not worth the risk.
- Who should use sunscreen? EVERYONE! It doesn’t matter if you’re fair-skinned, freckled, dark-skinned, olive-skinned, tan easily, etc. Everyone needs protection from the sun’s harmful rays.
- Select sunscreens that are broad spectrum (protects from both UVA and UVB rays) and is at least SPF 30.
- Sunscreen is recommended even on cloudy days! So yes, put sunscreen on everyday. The harmful rays can still penetrate through clouds. That said, don’t let a sky full of overcast clouds deceive you from NOT putting on sunscreen.
- Rule of thumb on application is that an average sized adult should be putting on at least a shot glass full to cover his/her entire body. Make sure to apply at least 15-20 minutes prior to sun exposure to ensure your skin as absorbed the sunscreen.
- Sunscreen lotions vs. sprays? I personally prefer to use lotions and sticks (look like glue sticks) versus sprays to ensure complete coverage. I found that sprays are dangerous to accidentally inhale and I can’t really control where the spray falls on the skin. I know applying the lotion takes a little longer but at least I can make sure to cover the entire skin area with manual application. Remember to reapply every 90 to 120 minutes and after any water activity or intense sweating.
- Direct sun exposure is not recommended for infants younger than six months. Avoiding the sun would be ideal for the little ones. Dress your babies (and yourself!) in protective clothing/hats and staying in the shade are ways to avoid sun exposure. If you do go out in the sun applying a sunscreen that includes zinc oxide or titanium oxide may be less irritating for young skin.
- Try to avoid being outside during the hottest time of the day (typically between the hours of 10am and 4pm)
In addition to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, I’d also recommend that parents visit Sun Protection by the Skin Cancer Foundation. There you will find more tips and recommendations specifically for children and sun safety. Finally, the American Academy of Pediatrics has a helpful video on sun protection for the whole family.
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