Q: How can I help my children understand the dangers of getting too much sun?
A: It’s July, and the potential for sun damage is peaking as families hit the beach and get outside more for playtime. Even on foggy days, the sun is a danger. It’s good to start talking with kids early about the dangers of too much sun exposure.
Some of the risks of over exposure that you can explain to your family include:
- Premature signs of aging, including wrinkles, rough skin and freckles.
- Excessive sun exposure, especially exposure that causes burning, can lead to skin cancer.
- Once the skin is burnt, the damage is done.
- Repeated burning can increase chances of skin cancer and cause the skin to age and freckle.
There are several ways to avoid over exposure:
- Clothing can protect the skin from exposure, provided it is thick enough.
- Hats can be worn and are particularly useful in mid-day when sun rays are brightest. Children can be taught to wear hats to protect their sensitive facial skin from early ages. Many hats sold for children also have flaps that protect ears and necks.
- Sunscreen, sold in lotion and spray forms, is a chemical that helps protect the skin from the suns rays (or radiation from the sun’s light). The higher the SPF number, the more protection it provides.
- The lips should also be protected with a lip balm containing SPF.
is an excellent source for your sun protection needs.
It’s also important to make sure everyone stays hydrated when out playing in the sun. The combination of dehydration and over exposure to the sun can lead to heat stroke. Monitor friends and family when spending large chunks of time in the sun to ensure adequate sun protection and hydration are being practiced.
The sun has some benefits that should also be noted, when exposure is in moderate doses. The sun provides vitamin D, which strengthens bones and prevents diseases associated with weak bones. Appropriate amounts of sun exposure can also improve mood.
As with so many things in life, the sun is good in moderation.