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More than susnscreen: Keep your kids sun safe this summer

Posted June 11
Updated June 14

Summer is here and kids are out of school for summer break, and that means families will spend more time under the summer sun. But there are ways to parents can protect their children from harmful UV rays.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, sunburns can cause long-lasting damage to the skin.

“Too much UV could result in painful burns and may also increase their risk of skin cancer in later life,” Clare O’Connor, sun care scientific adviser at Boots UK, told the Telegraph.

The Washington Post suggests kids start wearing sunscreen at 6 months. Before then, "experts recommend using other measures for sun protection such as keeping them in shady spots, using hats, sitting under beach umbrellas and wearing protective clothing and swimwear."

Since buying the perfect sunscreen for young kids can be especially difficult, Dr. Jack Maypole, a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center, suggests to The Post that parents avoid sunscreens with the harmful ingredients of oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. Oxybenzone is a hormone disruptor and retinyl palmitate may increase sun damage. Sunscreens containing metal ingredients like titanium and zinc are the safest, even though they may be more expensive.

Cream sunscreens may prevail over spray sunscreens due to the even coverage that allows your skin to absorb better, according to Maypole. He suggests using generous amounts in the 30-50 SPF range.

To help inform parents about sun protection, the Environmental Working Group has put together a guide about choosing the right sunscreen with safety ratings. It also includes some tips that involve avoiding the sun altogether and others that encourage the appropriate precautions for sun safety:

Time of day

Avoid those hot summer afternoon hours by going outside early in the morning or the late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. "Stay out of the midday sun (from 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon), which is the strongest sunlight," according to WebMD.

Sunglasses are essential

Not only are sunglasses a fashion accessory, they protect your eyes from the powerful UV rays. According to Jack Maypole, adviser to the Goddard School and pediatrician for medically complex children at Boston Medical Center: Prevent Blindness, there are two types of UV rays, UV-A and UV-B. UV-A rays can impair your central vision by damaging part of your retina and UV-B rays can damage your cornea and lens. Long amounts of exposure to these rays can cause macular degeneration, cataracts, pterygium and corneal sunburn. "Look for sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays as possible," according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wear a hat

Wearing a hat can protect your skin from the sun's UV rays by 27 percent, according to EWG. "Hats that shade the face, scalp, ears, and neck are easy to use and give great protection. Baseball caps are popular among kids, but they don’t protect their ears and neck. If your child chooses a cap, be sure to protect exposed areas with sunscreen," the CDC advises.

Email: mmcnulty@deseretnews.com

Twitter: megchristine5

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