With temperatures on the rise and people participating in more outdoor activities, it’s a good time to be reminded of the need for protection against the sun’s strong ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Multiple studies show the relationship between sun exposure and increased risk of developing the most common types of skin cancers: squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

As families begin to make their way outside and spend more time in the sun, parents may wonder the best ways to protect their child’s skin from strong UV rays.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that all kids above the age of six months— regardless of their skin tone and type, wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Keep babies younger than six months old out of the sun. When going outside, dress babies in lightweight clothes that cover their arms and legs (rashguards)— and don’t forget a hat with a brim.

If the sun can’t be avoided, use a small amount of sunscreen on baby’s exposed skin, such as the hands and face. Little ones should not be wearing any type of topical sunscreen product until they are at least six months old.

For sensitive skin, choose mineral sunscreen with the active ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Mineral sunscreen blocks UV radiation while chemical sunscreen absorbs UV radiation before it can be absorbed by the skin.
The best types of sunscreen:
• Have an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher
• Protect against both UVA and UVB rays (a “broad-spectrum” sunscreen)
• Are water-resistant (protects kids while in the water for 40–80 minutes)

Parents may also be a good role model for sunscreen wearing. Consistently wearing sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater and limiting sun exposure will reduce the risk of skin damage and teach kids good sun sense.

Infants have sensitive skin and are more vulnerable to serious burns. Clothing can be a great way to protect them and children from the harmful effects of UV rays, but not all fabrics block those rays equally. Companies now have testing standards for sun protection of UV protective clothing and it is displayed with a UPF factor rating.

As kids grow up practicing a sun protection routine, they’ll be more likely to extend those behaviors into adulthood, lowering their risk of premature skin aging and every type of skin cancer.

To learn more on prevention tips and find a provider, visit intermountainnv.org.