Did you know that experts predict most sun damage occurs by the time you’re 10 years old? Even just a few serious sunburns can increase the risk of skin cancer as you age. For any parent, that can be a scary thought. But whether you’re on family vacation, watching a softball game, or letting the kids ride their bikes through the neighborhood, it can be difficult to stay on top of sunscreen, hats, and protective clothing.
If you’re tired of putting a wriggling toddler in a half nelson to reapply SPF or worrying about your teenager when he or she is away from your watchful eyes, be sure to check out our top tips for protecting your kids’ skin over summer.
1. Education First
While getting a kid to remember to reapply sunscreen during the day may seem like a tall order, communication can make a world of difference. Talk to your child about the importance of skin protection in keeping them safe and healthy. These conversations don’t have to be scary or shocking to make an impact. Check out these tips on talking to teenagers about tanning from the Skin Cancer Foundation.
2. Building Healthy Sunscreen Habits
Even if they grumble while you slather sunscreen on them, it’s important to make application of SPF (and reapplication after swimming or extended periods in the sun) part of the routine. The nearby ocean or pool may be beckoning them to play, but applying sunscreen and waiting for it to dry doesn’t have to be boring—give your kids something to occupy their time without getting wet, and the process will be over before they can think to complain. Younger children may feel empowered if you let them do it themselves, while older kids may respond to joking or distraction. Eventually, sitting still for you to apply sunscreen or applying it themselves will simply become a habit that hopefully lasts a lifetime.
3. Make it Simple with Easy or Fun Products
Applying thick, globby cream and ensuring you don’t miss any important places can be tedious. Spray sunscreen is quick, easy, and offers consistent coverage. It’s also less likely to drip into the eyes and is absorbed into the skin more quickly. Additionally, purchasing products with fun packaging or SPF lip balm with a tasty flavor can make the process more palatable.
4. Protective Clothing
As the world becomes more aware of skin cancer risks, it’s easier than ever to find protective gear. Many swimsuits are made with UV protection, so larger areas of the body can be covered and protected throughout the day. Additionally, swim shirts—also known as “rash guards”— offer a protective covering that doesn’t drag or pull the way regular t-shirts do when wet.
5. Plan Around the Sun
Even if you do all the right things, the sun can be brutal during peak hours (12 PM – 3 PM). This is the perfect time to plan a well-shaded lunch break or playtime in a covered area. If you’re at the beach, pitch your umbrella and have a sandcastle competition. At home, call the kids inside for an afternoon popsicle. If you or the kids must be outside during this time, cover up appropriately.