Anyone who’s ever tried to convince an impatient, dripping-wet toddler to wear a bucket hat or to let you reapply sunscreen knows the challenges that come with safeguarding kids’ skin. Even on cloudy days, there’s no relief. Ultraviolet rays can cause damage before you’ve blown up all the floaties.
The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that more people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer annually than all other cancers combined. Even just a few sunburns can increase a person’s risk. On average, the likelihood of developing melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, doubles after more than five sunburns.
This summer, stockpile and use several bottles of water-resistant SPF 30 sunscreen that offer broad spectrum protection from damaging ultraviolet A and B rays. Then, consider these creative parenting hacks to care for your children’s skin:
Prepare to paint
From toddlers to early elementary school-aged children, finger and face painting are generally considered good, messy fun. Using sunscreen as the medium, budding artists can “paint” their bodies and decorate their faces, being careful to avoid the eyes. Adults can help rub the lotion in when they’re finished to ensure overall coverage.
Quick tip: One small hand full, or about one ounce of sunscreen, is needed to cover exposed skin on an adult’s body. Adjust as needed for kids.
Make a mask
Take that face-painting idea one step further. Create a character mask using sunscreen to transform your kiddo into a storm trooper, unicorn or favorite animal. Then, spread the sunscreen around to cover the whole face.
Quick tip: Work sunglasses into the costume!
I got your back
Take turns. First, ask your child to rub lotion onto your arms; then it’s your turn to apply on them.
Quick tip: Start early. Allow sunscreen to soak in for 20-30 minutes before sun exposure.
Keep a variety of clothing and lightweight layers ready – hats, long-sleeve tops, mid-length to long skirts, rash guard tops and sunglasses to help protect during peak hours (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).
Quick tip: Kids love umbrellas, which are good for rain or shine!
For on-the-go kids, some parents appreciate the convenience and quick application of a misting sunscreen available in aerosol cans or pump spray bottles. It can be harder to get adequate coverage in outside conditions with a spray than a cream, so go for an even sheen and stay out of the wind when spraying.
Quick tip: For face coverage, spray the sunscreen into your hands and then apply it to avoid inhalation and ensure you don’t miss any spots.
The sun’s rays are at their peak between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Find relief during those times under trees, pop-up tents, awnings, picnic shelters, umbrellas and the like.
Quick Tip: Mosquitoes and bugs also are drawn to shade. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends avoiding sunscreen that contains insect repellent. Purchase these products individually because insect repellent should be applied less frequently than sunscreen.
Sing their praises
Have your child sit still and listen to their favorite song – or sing it. That should buy you two minutes to thoroughly apply the first coat of protection.
Quick Tip: Don’t forget the tops of the feet and ears and don’t forget to reapply sunscreen after 80 minutes or after swimming or toweling off.