GUILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Experiencing one or more blistering sunburns as a child or adolescent more than doubles your chance of developing melanoma later in life. That’s why protecting her kids from the sun is a top priority for Jessica Fleming, mom of two-and-a-half year old Macklin and 10-month-old Maeleen.
“It’s definitely important for me to instill the habit of putting on sunscreen from a young age,” Fleming said. “I wish I had done that when I was younger.”
“Absolutely you want to start when they’re young so that this becomes routine for them,” said Kathy Kruser, APRN, of Guilford Pediatrics.
Kruser says one of the best ways to protect your kids is by avoiding outdoor activities between 10am and 4pm.
“That’s when the rays are the strongest, especially 10 to 2,” she explained. “Everybody thinks that’s the time to go to the beach but it’s really best to go early in the morning or go later in the evening.”
And don’t be fooled on a cloudy day.
“People think, ‘Oh it’s cloudy so we don’t have to worry about the sunscreen,’ but the strongest of the UV rays are those that are coming through the clouds,” Kruser explained. “So using sunscreen no matter what the weather is like is important.”
Speaking of sunscreen, the recommended SPF for kids is 15 to 30.
“A 15 to 30 provides plenty of protection, the key being that it needs to be reapplied at least every two hours and an adequate amount used each time you put it on,” Kruser said.
Even the youngest babies need to be protected.
“A lot of the products will say under six months you shouldn’t use sunscreen, but even infants can get sunburn,” Kruser explained. “So the best thing is putting babies in shade but still the body parts that are exposed should have some sunscreen put on, particularly paying attention to their face, the tips of their ears, the back of their hands, the tops of their feet — things that aren’t necessarily going to be covered by clothing.”
Also, don’t forget to cover up your kids with UV protection clothing as well as a hat.
“You want to make sure that they have a hat on with a three inch brim to cover their face,” Kruser said. “Sunglasses are recommended because the UV rays can cause eye damage.”
Kruser says safe sun care should be practiced all year long.
“t’s a good idea to use sunscreen in every season of the year, particularly here in the northeast where we get snow,” Kruser explained. “The kids are outside playing in the snow, the sun is reflecting off that white surface and kids actually can get sunburn.”
One last sun care tip — beware that certain medications, such as those in the tetracycline family, can make a child extra sensitive to the sun.