When I was a kid growing up in Sarasota, summertime was suntan time.  Or maybe I should say, it was sunburn time!

We didn’t know about the long term dangers of too much sun, and there certainly weren’t any sunscreens on the market.  By day we lathered on baby oil tinged with iodine to attract extra rays. By night we peeled our blistered skin and sometimes even nursed the ill effects of too much sun that we called “sun poisoning” – fever, chills, nausea.

Today we know that children don’t actually have to be burned to be harmed by the sun. Over time, moderate exposure during childhood can lead to wrinkling, freckling, and even skin cancer later in life. In the short term, too much sun can leave a child’s skin red and warm, and may cause fever, chills, headache, and lead to a greater risk of dehydration. Even the scalp and eyes can be victims of sun damage.

News Flash: Dr. Weiss recommends avoiding the use of spray sunscreens, as they have been found to provide ineffective coverage, and the possible added risk of inhalation. So it’s back to lathering up our little and big ones with lotions and creams.

Here are a few guidelines to protect your children from sunburns:

  • Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. Find shade under a tree, an umbrella, or the stroller canopy.
  • Try to keep your child out of the sun when the peak ultraviolet rays occur (between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M.).
  • Always use generous amounts of sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
  • Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going out.
  • Reapply sunscreen often, every 1 ½ – 2 hours.
  • Dress your child in lightweight cotton clothing with long sleeves and long pants.
  • Use a beach umbrella or similar object to keep her in the shade as much as possible.
  • Have your child wear a hat with a wide brim.

You can find more information about preventing and treating mild sunburn, as well as, when to call the doctor or go to the ER by clicking on Sunburn in the drop-down menu at Weiss Pediatric Care’s Symptom Checker.

Have a sunburn free and happy summer!