It’s that time of the year again when the cool sea breeze and the white sand beaches are inviting us to indulge in the summer waves under the blazing heat of the sun. It’s probably a lovely sight to see our kids having fun with their peers while basking in the heat of the sun, and then emerging a few shades darker after a couple hours. While we want them to go out there and explore, we should still be on full alert when it comes to protecting our kids from the harmful rays of the sun. What with the worsening of climate change in our planet, our kids are most especially prone to the negative effects of UV rays, including sunburn, or worse, skin cancer. Thankfully, we have sunscreens now to protect our children’s precious skin. Here’s a guide to choosing the perfect sunscreen for your kids.
Apparently, there are quite a few things that you need to consider when choosing a sunscreen, or any protective material for that matter. You may want to ask yourself: what are the ingredients of this particular sunscreen? How much is the SPF? How long will it stay on the skin? Before anything else, let’s first describe what sunscreens specifically protect us from. Ultraviolet radiation or UVR is the invisible electromagnetic light that comes from the sun, and it has three types: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVC is absorbed by the earth’s ozone layer and doesn’t actually reach us. UVA penetrates the skin more deeply, while the UVB are the burning rays. While UVB was initially thought to be of more concern, it was later found out that UVA is the primary cause for skin cancers, particularly in children because of their sensitive skin. As a result, most sunscreen products are formulated to combat the effects of both UVA and UVB using the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating. In general, the higher the UPF rating, the better its chances to protect the skin from the ultraviolet rays that can penetrate the skin. While you may feel the urge to prefer the ones with the higher number, it does not automatically mean that your kid is completely guarded against the sun’s rays. It is believed that a sunscreen with UPF (or Sun Protection Factor or SPF) of at least 30 is the ideal choice; the number means that you will avoid more than 97% of UVB rays. You might still want to choose your product according to your child’s skin color, the amount of time they will be staying under the sun, or any possible reaction of your kid’s skin on some components of the product. Many medical experts would advise you to use a product that has the fewest chemicals possible; this is to protect especially the younger ones who have thinner skin from the possible harm caused by chemicals. Keep in mind also that some sunscreens protect your skin from sunburn, but they may not be able to protect you or your kids from other skin damage, so always make sure to read the full description of the product before buying it.
Now that you have chosen your preferred sunscreen, the next thing is to, of course, apply it. Typically, you should apply sunscreens 15 to 20 minutes before going outside to allow the product to really settle on the skin and to optimize its protective property, so always read the instruction first. Don’t hesitate to apply a generous amount on the skin, too, and make sure to cover all the exposed parts of the body, including the ears, hands, feet, shoulders, and the area behind the neck. There is a tendency for the applied product to be easily washed away by your kid’s sweat or by water when he decides to swim, so aside from applying generously, you should reapply, and several times if necessary. The lips are also part of the skin that is easily exposed to the sun, so protect it using a lip balm, again reapplying as necessary. Finally, complete the protection package against the sun by using other protective products, such as hats or caps, protective clothes like rash guard, and shades. Remind your kids, too, to take a break and find some shade to avoid overexposure.
Being exposed to the sun is not altogether really harmful; in fact, we need sunlight to activate the Vitamin D in our bodies. But as always, too much of anything can be hazardous, and when it comes to sunlight exposure, too much can cause several skin damage, as well as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. It is therefore important that we get only the amount of sunlight that our body needs, and this can be achieved in the morning. We should warn our kids to steer away from the rays especially during the midday. And with the proper use of sunscreen, along with other protective clothing, we can ensure that our kids have an enjoyable playtime outdoors.
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