Warm, sunny days are wonderful. It’s great to exercise outside, and the sun feels good on your skin. But what feels good can harm you and your family. Read on for information from the American Academy of Pediatrics about how to keep your family safe from the sun’s harmful rays.
The sun gives energy to all living things on earth, but it can also harm us. Its ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage skin and eyes and cause skin cancer. All skin cancers are harmful and some, especially malignant melanoma, can be deadly.
One-quarter of our lifetime sun exposure happens during childhood and adolescence. Since children spend a lot of time outdoors, especially in the summer, it’s important to protect them from the sun.
Research shows that 1 or more blistering sunburns as a child or teen can increase the risk of melanoma skin cancer later in life. Sunburns can also be very painful. Too much sun exposure can cause other problems, too, such as
It’s good for children and adults to spend time playing and exercising outdoors, and it’s important to do so safely. Follow these simple rules to protect your family from sunburns now and from skin cancer later in life.
Sunscreen can help protect the skin from sunburn and some skin cancers but only if used correctly. Keep in mind that sunscreen should be used for sun protection, not as a reason to stay in the sun longer.
How to pick sunscreen
How to apply sunscreen
Sunscreen for Babies
When to call the doctor
If your baby is younger than 1 year and gets sunburn, call your baby’s doctor right away. For older children, call your child’s doctor if there is blistering, pain, or fever.
How to soothe sunburn
Here are 5 ways to relieve discomfort from mild sunburn.
About Indoor Tanning and Sunless Tanning Products
Many teens, especially girls and young women, go to tanning salons because a tan makes them feel more attractive and healthy. But tanning at a salon is dangerous! Like the natural sun, tanning beds give off UV rays that can cause sunburns and skin cancer. Tanning indoors is not safe for anyone—teens or adults!
Sunless tanning lotions, sprays, and airbrush tanning booths are popular too. These products contain a chemical that darkens the skin. The tan usually lasts for several days. However, all sunless tanning products can cause side effects such as skin rashes and irritation. They should also be kept away from the eyes, nose, and mouth. Most of these products do not include sunscreen, so skin is not protected from the real sun. Anyone using a sunless tanner must also use a sunscreen.
Myth: Only people with light skin can get sunburn.
Fact: People with pale skin or light hair need to be more careful in the sun because they sunburn more easily compared to people with darker skin. However, most people can sunburn no matter what their skin color is. All people need to take steps to protect themselves from the sun’s harmful rays.
Myth: A suntan is good for you.
Fact: A “base tan” does not protect you from getting sunburn. In fact, it may increase the chance you’ll get sunburn because you may think that you can stay out in the sun longer. A tan is actually a sign of skin damage.
Myth: Only adults can get skin cancer, so putting sunscreen on children is not necessary.
Fact: While most of the people who get skin cancer are older, children, teens, and young adults can get it too. Also, too many sunburns and too much sun exposure over the years can cause not only skin cancer but also skin wrinkles and cataracts of the eye. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, there are more than 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer each year.
The information contained in this publication should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
© 2019 American Academy of Pediatrics. All rights reserved.