Sun safety

Sun safety

Sun is the major cause of skin cancer. Blistering sunburns can increase your child's risk of skin cancer later in life.

  • Limit your child's sun exposure to direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun's rays are the strongest.
  • Dress your child in loose-fitting clothing: long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Use clothing that has tightly woven fabric for the best protection. Use a wide-brimmed hat that covers all of your child's head and neck. (Avoid straw hats.) If your child wears a baseball cap, protect her ears and back of her neck.
  • If shade and proper clothing are not available, use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Follow the package directions.
  • There is no evidence that less of a sunburn will occur if using a product rated higher than SPF 30. The secret is to reapply sunscreen every two hours.
  • Use a lipscreen with at least SPF 15.
  • If you are using sunscreen from last summer, check the expiration date. If the date has expired, replace the sunscreen.
  • Rub in sunscreen at least 30 minutes before your child goes outside. Never use baby oil as a sunscreen.
  • UV rays can cause skin damage during any season or temperature. They can reflect off water, sand, snow or concrete. UV rays even come through on cloudy or hazy days. If your child is going to be outside on cloudy days or in the winter, apply sunscreen to unprotected areas.
  • Reapply sunscreen if your child has been playing in water or playing outside during peak sun hours. Even waterproof sunscreens need to be reapplied. Follow the package directions.
  • Put shatterproof sunglasses - with UV protection - on your child. UV rays can increase the risk of cataracts, the clouding of the eye lens. Wraparound sunglasses work best, but be sure to buy sunglasses appropriate for your child's face.
  • If your child gets sunburned, give her extra water and cool baths for comfort. If your child is older than 6 months, ibuprofen may help if she is uncomfortable. Call your health care provider right away if the sunburn is severe.

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are part of sunlight that is an invisible form of radiation. UV rays can go into and change the structure of skin cells. UV rays can increase a person's risk of getting skin cancer.

Remember, a tan is a sign of skin damage.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5 Years Old, fifth edition. For inclusivity, this guide uses "them" and "their."
Reviewed By: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts, including the Pediatric Department of Allina Health Coon Rapids Clinic
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 01/01/2016