print article

Sun: Protecting Your Child's Skin

Too much sun exposure can cause severe sunburns, including blisters, illness, shivering and fever. In the long term, too much sun exposure can also cause early aging of the skin and even skin cancer.

It is important to protect your child's skin from the sun. This can include applying sunscreens, wearing sun-protective clothing and avoiding the sun completely.​

General tips to protect the skin

  • The sun’s rays are at their strongest between 11am and 3pm.
  • The sun’s rays can still reach your child on cloudy days.
  • The fairer your child's skin, the greater the chance that your child will get a sunburn.
  • Babies under six months should stay in the shade at all times. Sunscreens are not recommended for this age group. 

Sunscreens

Sunscreens that your child can use on the skin:

  • protect against the sun’s harmful rays (UV rays)
  • protect against sunburn
  • help prevent sun-related skin changes such as wrinkles, pigment (skin colour) changes and skin cancer.

Choose a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB. These are the damaging components of sunlight.

Sun protection factor (SPF) refers to the degree of protection from UVB rays. It does not include protection against UVA rays.

Chemicals that protect the skin against UVA include:

  • oxybenzone
  • avobenzone
  • ecamsule

Sunscreens that contain ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc dioxide protect against both UVA and UVB.

Choosing and using sunscreen

Follow these steps when choosing and using sunscreen:

  • Choose a sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply sunscreen liberally and often to all parts of the body that are exposed to the sun, especially the face and neck.
  • Re-apply sunscreen every two to three hours, especially if your child has been perspiring from doing outdoor activities or their skin has become wet, for example from playing in water or swimming.

Other tips for reducing sun exposure

  • Avoid tanning beds. Studies have shown that using tanning beds increases your risk for skin damage and skin cancer significantly.
  • Avoid going out in the sun between 11am and 3pm. This is when UV radiation is the strongest. Do outdoor activities earlier or later in the day.
  • Avoid sunbathing. Look for areas that are shaded or covered instead of sitting in the direct sun.
  • Wear loose, long-sleeved cotton tops and pants. These help keep your child covered and cool during the day. Cotton and linen are the best materials for staying cool.
  • Wear a sunhat.

Medications and sun exposure

Certain medications may cause skin to become more sensitive to sunlight. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Key points

  • Too much sun exposure can cause sunburns and long-term skin damage, including early aging of the skin and cancer.
  • It is important to protect your child's skin from the sun. This can include applying sunscreens, wearing sun-protective clothing and avoiding the sun completely.
  • Your child or teenager should not use tanning beds.

Miriam Weinstein, MD, FRCPC
Michelle Lee, RN
Jackie Su, RN
Elena Pope, MD, MSc, FRCPC
Charis Kelly, RN(EC), MN

9/19/2013
 

Helfrich YR, Sachs DL, Voorehees JJ. Overview of skin aging and photoaging. Dermatology Nu





Notes: