Although many parents know their kids need vitamin D, most are well aware that getting extra sun exposure isn't a good way to get it. The risks of too much sun just aren't worth it, including getting a sunburn and an increased risk of certain types of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
So put away the sun tanning oils and lotions and don't even think about letting your teen go to a tanning salon.
These are new days with new ways of sunning, and the practices that traditionally have gone into obtaining the so-called "healthy tanned" look are on the verge of fading into history.
Instead of working on that tan, your kids will be much healthier if you work on these seven steps to safer sun protection:
- Avoid the sun
- Apply sunscreen properly
- Wear a hat
- Wear sunglasses
- Use sun protection clothing
- Avoid artificial tanning
- Check your child's skin
Avoid the SunSure, avoid the sun and you can avoid letting your kids get a sun tan, sun burn or any kind of sun damage. But that isn't very practical, since we all want our kids outside playing and being active. If kids sit on the couch and play video games or lie on their bed watching TV, they won't ever get a sunburn, but they won't be very healthy either.
Instead of avoiding the sun altogether, it is more important to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are strongest.
You should also check the UV index in your area and avoid the sun when the index is moderate or high, especially when there is a UV alert in your area. Remember, the higher the index, the greater your exposure to strong UV rays and UV radiation.
When trying to avoid the sun, be sure to remember that:
- some UV rays (about 20%) can pass through clouds and be reflected on sand and snow
- kids with light skin can burn much faster in the sun
- having dark skin doesn't mean that you can avoid worrying about sun protection
Also remember that younger babies can get overheated quickly, so you should usually keep kids less than 6 months old out of the sun, especially since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) doesn't recommend the routine use of sunscreen until six months.
Avoiding the sun or using extra sun protection is also important for certain high-risk people, including children and teens who:
- have very fair skin or who burn easily
- have a family history of skin cancer
- take medications that put them at extra risk, including most acne medications, some antibiotics and many other medications (check the package insert or ask your pediatrician or pharmacist)