Summer is right around the corner, so you know what that means: warm weather and kids clamoring to get outside and play in the summer sun! Infants, toddlers, and preschool aged children are at greater risk for heat related conditions like dehydration and heat exhaustion so it is important to take the proper precautions. Child care, preschool teachers, and parents must make careful decisions about when to let kids play outside and when to keep them indoors. They also must know too appropriately protect kids from the sun.
So we turned to Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD, Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School and author of an outstanding children’s book about sun protection, Little Charles Hits a Home Run! to get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about children’s sun care:
Is there a particular temperature or heat index or times during which children in a daycare should be kept inside?
Dr. Crutchfield: I recommend keeping children inside when the heat index is 92° or higher.
What is the difference between sunscreen and sunblock and which one (or both) should child care providers apply?
Dr. Crutchfield: A sunscreen is a lotion that has a chemical blocking agent. A sunblock is a lotion containing particles such as titanium dioxide, which physically block the sun and provide effective sun protective measures.
What type of sunscreen or sunblock should children in daycare/preschool use and what level of SPF should be applied?
Dr. Crutchfield: I recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and it also must contain ultra-violet A protection. The SPF numbers only protect against burns. UVA is more important to protect against skin cancer, wrinkles and liver spots. Most of the newer sunscreens will say ‘broad-spectrum’, protecting against both UVA and UVB rays, and this is what I recommend looking for when purchasing a sunscreen.
How often should sunscreen or sunblock be applied? What about during water play?
Dr. Crutchfield: I recommend applying sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside in the sun. Once outside, I recommend reapplying every hour or more frequently if one is actively perspiring and/or sweating.
What is the best type of clothing to wear on hot summer days?
Dr. Crutchfield: I recommend buying specifically designed clothing to block the sun that is light and vented and comfortable. www.coolibar.com has great products in this respect.
What is the best way to treat sunburn?
Dr. Crutchfield: The best way to treat sunburn is with Aloe Vera gel, kept in the refrigerator and applied four times daily. If the burn is not responding or is severe, see a dermatologist.
Any other advice for summer sun care in daycare or preschool?
Dr. Crutchfield: Don’t forget about the eyes. Just as ultraviolet rays can damage the skin, they can also cause long-term damage by infecting the eyes.
See Crutchfield Dermatology’s pediatric skin care treatments