Children can suffer burns when their unprotected skin is exposed to sunlight. In addition, excessive sunburns can lead to skin cancer later in life. In fact, most people receive 50 percent of their lifetime exposure to the sun by the time they're 20 years old.
- Protect children from excessive sun exposure when the sun is strongest and apply sunscreen liberally and frequently to children 6 months of age and older.
- Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher that protects against both UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) rays. Apply it to all areas of the body that are exposed to the sun.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours, even on cloudy days. Reapply after swimming or sweating.
- Wear clothing that covers the body and shades the face; hats should provide shade for both the face and the back of the neck. Wearing sunglasses will filter as much as 80 percent of the sun's harmful rays, protecting the lids of the eyes as well as the lens.
- Avoid exposure to UV (ultraviolet) radiation from sunlamps or tanning beds.
Remember that sand and pavement reflect UV rays, too – even under an umbrella – and that snow is also a good reflector of UV rays. Reflective surfaces can reflect up to 85 percent of the sun's most damaging rays.
Consult with your child's physician before applying sunscreen to babies under 6 months old.