Fall is here, and children are heading back to school. For many children and adolescents, sun protection ends with the summer, but that is a mistake parents can’t let happen. Sun safety is essential in every season. It is especially important for children, whose skin is particularly sensitive to the sun.
The sun’s ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, both of which are key causes of skin cancer, are always present. While UVB rays are most intense in summer, up to 95 percent of the UV radiation reaching the earth is UVA, which is emitted in about equal intensity throughout the year.
Just one blistering sunburn (which can occur at any time of the year) in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a child’s chances of developing melanoma later in life. In fact, your child can burn even when the day is overcast — up to 80 percent of the sun’s dangerous UV radiation can penetrate clouds.
Help keep your children sun-safe even after summer is over by following these tips:
1. Cover Up: Dress children in sun-protective clothes, such as long- sleeved shirts and long pants made of bright- or dark-colored, tightly woven fabrics. Dark blue denim, for example, provides very effective protection, as well as comfort and style.
2. Slather on Sunscreen: Make sure children apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher 30 minutes before leaving for school, and, if the administration permits it, encourage children to reapply it before all outdoor activities.
3. Seek the Shade: The sun is most intense between 10 AM and 4 PM. Teach children to seek the shade during recess and to wear a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses when heading to or from school.