Summer is beach time and it means we will have a lot more sun exposure during this time. Kids are off from school and favourite pass-times include playing in the water park, beach or any activity outdoors. But as you know, skin cancer is on the rise and a lot of people ignore the risks associated with sun exposure.
Our precious children are most at risk as they do not know the dangers of sun exposure and there is little that we can do to stop them from playing outdoors. Let’s learn about what sun screen is and how to choose the best one.
If you have been to the market looking for a sun screen lotion or spray I am sure you may have heard of SPF. It stands for Sun Protection Factor and basically the stronger the SPF, the more our skins would be protected against harmful sun rays. But is it really true? Not entirely. According to dermatologists any SPF over 30 should do help in protecting your skin.
Traditionally, it has been thought that the sun’s Ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays cause sun burn and can result in skin cancer. The sun screen was supposed to cover the skin and block UVB rays from burning the skin. Research has recently revealed that it is not just UVB that damages the skin and causes cancer, but Ultraviolet-A (UVA) rays are also responsible for causing cancer. While UVA does not burn the skin, it penetrates deep into the skin causing wrinkles. It is understood that about 90% of age related cancers are a result of UVA exposure.
Best Protection Against Harmful Sun Rays
Clearly there is not best protection against UV rays, other than covering up and making sure sun exposure is minimal. But if you are going to be outside and there is no other alternative than you can opt for a sunscreen that is considered broad-spectrum. Such products protect against both A and B variations of sun’s ultraviolet rays. These products typically include ingredients such as benzophenones, cinnamates, sulisobenzone, salicylates, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone and ecamsule.
These chemicals are used to provide a thick layer of blockage against sun’s harmful rays. But what do they mean for our children? Well, anything applied to skin is, to some degree, absorbed by the skin into the blood stream and certain chemicals have been identified to cause cancers, reproductive problems and affect human growth. So you want to do your research before buying a sun screen lotion.
Also remember that the rule of thumb is that an amount the size of a golf ball of sun-screen lotion should be applied to a child’s exposed body parts, including face and ears at least 30 minutes before sun exposure. Children normally do not wait that long and for the most parts parents tend to apply less amounts, which defeats the whole purpose of sun screens
Speaking of lotions, recently there has been a surge in the use of sun screen sprays, particularly for kids because it is fast and easy to apply. However, experts warn that inhalation of such aerosols can be very harmful. Besides, such chemicals have a better chance of faster absorption by the skin which can result in other health related problems. If you do have to use aerosol products, make sure to use them in a well-ventilated area and avoid spraying on eyes, mouth and nose.
So What Can Be Done?
If you are going outside with your child, keep in mind that the sun screen should be your last line of defense against sun damage to your skin. Make sure to wear shirts with long sleeves, long pants and a hat. Keep hydrated and stay in shade as much as possible. On top of that use a sun screen that is endorsed by a credible authority such as Canadian Dermatology Association or other bodies in your region.
Remember, there is no perfect sun screen and your child will be placed in all kinds of dangers should you choose to use a harmful product. Use common sense, stay healthy!