Once you’re equipped with the proper knowledge about UV radiation, you can better protect your kids from sun damage. There are a few different ways to achieve the best overall sun protection for children, and they include providing adequate shade, wearing protective clothing, checking medications, and, of course, applying sunscreen specifically for kids.
Because kids have extra sensitive skin, they should avoid direct sunlight as much as possible, especially when the sun rays are strongest (typically between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.). The best way to do this is to avoid the midday sun, stay indoors, and/or keep shaded when outside. Some helpful shading tools include:
- parasols when at the beach or park
- awnings, tents, or parasols in the garden
- sunshades in the car or on the pram or carrier.
Although the beach comes to mind when thinking of sun exposure, most sun damage happens during those typical day-to-day activities, like walking outside, playing in the park, riding a bike, or riding in the car next to a window. Cool, cloudy, or overcast days create “invisible sun”, which can easily sneak up on you and cause damage to the skin.
Dress in Protective Clothing
Another important tactic for kids’ sun protection is to wear certain types of clothing. You don’t necessarily need UV-resistant clothing (although that is available and provides optimal protection). If you’d rather, you can focus on clothes that contain thick, woven fabrics that you can’t see through, then dress your children accordingly.
Some essentials include the following:
- Baggy shirts and trousers. Loose, light-coloured, and lightweight clothing is best to keep cool in the summer heat. Baggy clothes are optimal sun protection clothing for kids, as they cover more of the body and move with your little one as they play outside. If it’s not too hot, long sleeves and long trousers are best.
- UV protective clothing. If you prefer, you can find clothes with UV protection, thanks to a special weaving technique. If you choose to go this route, opt for a UV protection factor of 30 or more. This clothing typically features quick-drying fabric, so it’s great for the beach!
- Shoes. Choose a pair that covers the heel and top of the foot, which are especially vulnerable areas of the body when it comes to sun damage.
- Sunglasses. Don’t forget about the eyes! Even just one day in the sun can cause damage to the corneas (the outer membrane of the eye); but long-term, unprotected sun exposure to the eyes is what can cause cataracts later in life. To be safest, look for sunglasses with UV protection.
- Hats. Sun hats provide protection for children’s hair and scalp, but they’re also often equipped with neck flaps or wide brims to shade other parts of your kid’s body, like their face, neck, and ears.
- Swimsuit. It’s tempting to let your little one romp around in the water shirtless, but it’s better for kids to wear a swimsuit as sun protection. These suits come in several styles, though many cover limbs for additional sun protection while still keeping your kids cool, safe, and mobile with practical swimwear.
Sun protection for kids goes beyond what you put on the body, as some medications can make the skin more sensitive to UV light. Check with your child’s doctor if your little one is taking any medicine. Antibiotics and acne medication, plus some over-the-counter medicines, can all increase your child sensitivity to the sun. If this is the case for your family, focus on the other precautions like using kids’ sunscreen, playing in the shade, and wearing protective clothing.
Sunscreen for Kids
As mentioned above, UV light can still penetrate some layers of shade, so wearing sunscreen every day is an essential part of your kid’s routine, regardless of the weather or activity. Even when taking precautions like dressing in protective clothing, your little one might still have certain areas exposed to sunlight, such as hands and legs. And because children’s skin hasn’t built up those natural protections, they can only handle a few minutes of UV radiation before damage may occur.
The recommended sunscreen for kids is broad-spectrum (protects against both UVA and UVB light), water-resistant, and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 50. NIVEA’s entire line of SUN Kids sunscreens provides this full protection.