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How to stay safe in the sun’s rays

Summer is in full swing and that means your kids are spending more and more time outside. But are they wearing sunscreen? Whether it’s a day playing in the backyard with neighbors or a day at the beach, wearing sunscreen is a must.

Even on overcast days kids can still get sunburned. Over 70 percent of the sun’s rays still get through the clouds.

“As we’ve probably all experienced, sunburns are extremely painful,” said Melissa King, DO, medical director of urgent care at Dayton Children’s Hospital. “Taking proper precautions when going out in the sun can prevent your child from not only experiencing this pain, but also from experiencing the damaging and long term effects of sunburn,”

Tips on preventing sunburn

  • Apply broad spectrum SPF 45 or higher 30 minutes prior to being outside. Reapply every two hours or after sweating or swimming.
  • Avoid exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun's rays are strongest.
  • Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps.
  • Wear protective clothing, sunglasses and a hat.
  • "Children with moles, very fair skin and hair and those with a family history of skin cancer are at the highest risk for skin cancer. Children with these risk factors should take extra precaution when in the sun," King said.

If despite your best efforts, your child still ends up with a sunburn, these tips can help relieve pain:

  • Take Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Consult your primary care physician about the correct dosage for your child.
  • Apply over the counter one-half percent hydrocortisone or moisturizing creams three times a day to the burn.
  • Cool baths or wet cloth can help if showers are too painful.
  • Apply aloe vera gel to sunburned areas.

Do not:

  • Use petrolatum (Vaseline), butter or other ointments on a sunburn. They do not help relieve pain and are painful to remove.
  • Use first aid creams or sprays for burns as they often cause a rash.

“It’s also important to remember to not use sunscreen on an infant younger than 6 months. Instead, if they have to be out in the sun make sure they are wearing long sleeve shirts, pants and a hat.”

See a doctor immediately if your child is unable to look at light because of eye pain, has a fever over 101 degrees or if blisters develop.

One of the best things you can do is be a good role model and demonstrate safe sun practices yourself. And remember, if you’re sending your kids outside, send the sunscreen with them!