Too much sun can be harmful to your kids. Ultraviolet radiation that comes with sunlight is the leading cause of skin cancer and melanomas. Sun damage before the age of 18 can increase your kids’ risk of developing these conditions, but you can take measures to keep them safe.
Avoid the Sun
Unprotected exposure to direct sunlight can be dangerous. Too much time under the sun can lead to sunburns, and a single instance can double your child’s chances of developing melanoma. In a study conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, data showed that 5 sunburns in a lifetime increased the chances of developing skin cancer and melanomas by 80 percent. The risk of sun damage further increases with elevation.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation gets more concentrated with elevation, sometimes as much as 7 percent for every 1,000 feet. If you live in high-altitude cities like Salt Lake City (Utah) or Boulder (Colorado), you might want to keep your kids inside instead of letting them play in the sun. Opt for violin lessons, art lessons, or get them into reading. They can go out in the afternoon if the sun isn’t too bright.
Teach your kids to wear a hat or use an umbrella if they need to go out in the sun. Celebrities and models have taken to using umbrellas to protect their skin, and even Wolverine’s Hugh Jackman endorses the use of hats to prevent melanomas. Limit their skin exposure as much as possible with long-sleeved shirts and pants. Get them to use sunglasses at an early age. It protects them from the sun and it looks cute when they’re little.
Of course, your kids can’t avoid the sun forever. In instances when going out into the sun is unavoidable, teach them to use sunblock or apply it yourself. Even the most basic sunblock (SPF 15 and higher) can block 93 percent of UV radiation, provided it is used properly. Sunblock typically lasts for 1-2 hours, depending on the environment and activity, and it should be re-applied before it loses its efficacy.
The most dangerous type of sun damage is one that you’re not aware of. You probably feel safe inside your house or car, but being inside doesn’t protect you and your kids from UV. Driving your kids to school exposes them to a constant barrage of UV each day, and the damage accumulates over time.
While your car’s windshield probably has sufficient UV shielding, its other windows don’t. A quick trip to the shop and some UV-filtering fix can fix all that, making your car safe from the sun. Go the extra mile and install UV film in your house’s windows. UV film can be as clear or as dark as you want, and it also makes your house a little bit cooler.
Sun damage is no trifling matter, especially when one sunburn can change your kids’ future. Take measures to keep them safe from the sun and minimize their risk of developing skin cancer and melanomas.