Don't Get Burned: 8 Tips to Keep Kids Safe in the Sun

mom daughter at beach wearing hats

In Florida, playing outside in the sun is a year-round luxury. But 20% of Americans are predicted to get skin cancer in their lifetime, with a large portion of sun exposure occurring during childhood.

While we love our kids exercising outdoors instead of overdoing screen time, we do need to remember to stay safe in the sun to avoid the harmful rays.

8 Sun Safety Reminders to Keep Children Safe While Playing Outside

1. Apply sunscreen daily and make it part of the child's morning routine.

2. If outdoors and in the sun, reapply sunscreen every two hours or after sweating or swimming.

3. Use a broad spectrum, SPF 30, water resistant sunscreen, and consider a mineral containing version (zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) for babies or sensitive skin, as this may be less irritating. Avoid sprays in kids which are harder to apply evenly and may not get a thick application.

4. Apply sunscreen to babies less than six-months-old if they will have sun exposure. Most labels indicate for greater than six-months-old, however this is only because there are not studies done on younger populations. A baby's skin is particularly susceptible to the sun and should be protected at all times.

5. Seek shade during peak sun hours (10 am–4pm) to avoid sunburn from UV radiation. We need some exposure to sunlight to help our bodies make vitamin D, however, too much UV is dangerous–even a cloudy day can cause sunburn.

6. Wear sun protective clothing (Ultraviolet Protections Factor [UPF] 50 blocks 98% of the sun's harmful rays) and hats that cover the ears, neck and top of head (no visors) whenever possible.

7. Look for the ABCDE's of melanoma and skin cancer and get evaluated right away if you notice any of these findings.

  • Asymmetry of a lesion
  • Borders that are uneven
  • Colors, 2 or more within the lesion
  • Diameter greater than 6mm
  • Evolution of the lesion in that it changes shape, color, size or other feature 

8. Make sun and skin safety a family activity.

About the Author

Mirensky Tamar L Tamar Levene, MD, is a pediatric general and thoracic surgeon at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. She performs surgeries on babies and children, with a specific focus on minimally invasive approaches and techniques. Her expertise includes surgical treatment for many congenital anomalies, from intestinal problems and abdominal wall and lung abnormalities to hernias, breast masses and appendicitis. She also treats children with cancer and those who have suffered trauma. Dr. Levene also has an interest in pediatric obesity and bariatric surgery.

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions presented in this blog post do not reflect the ideas and opinions of Memorial Healthcare System.