Sun Protection for Your Family


My Little Travel Bug

Why do we need protection from the sun?

Each day we are exposed to UVA and UVB rays from the sun.  Over time, this exposure will lead to various health problems, including skin cancer, cataracts of the eyes, and premature aging.  The immediate effects can include sunburns and people taking certain medications can have photosensitivity reactions.

Recently there has been a lot of discussion around the necessity of sun exposure so the body can obtain adequate Vitamin D levels.  The amount of sun exposure required to make vitamin D is often received in incidental exposure of the face and hands or can be supplemented by taking a vitamin D tablet.  At this time, adequate sun protection is still recommended to prevent other serious health problems.

Minimizing Exposure

This best protection from the sun is to minimize your family’s exposure by following these guidelines:

==>    Wear a wide brimmed hat, that covers, the back of the neck and ears.
==>    Wear sunglasses with UVB and UVA protection.
==>    Minimize your exposure between the hours of 10am and 4pm when sun is the strongest.
==>    Wear long sleeved, light weight shirts and long pants when possible.
==>    Teach your children SLIP, SLAP, SLOP.  Slip on a shift, Slap on a hat and sunglasses and Slop on the sunscreen.

Choosing a Sunscreen

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, but only gives you an indication of the product’s protection from UVB rays.  It does not apply to UVA rays.  Everybody should wear a minimum of SPF 15 and preferably SPF 30 or 45.

Look for the following ingredients to ensure that you also have good UVA protection:

==>    A combination of avobenzone  (Parsol 1789) with oxybenzone.
==>    A combination of ecamsule (Mexoryl SX) with oxybenzone and octocrylene.
==>    Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide (physical blocks that prevent photosensitivity reactions).  Available in micronized formulations that no longer leave a white residue on skin.

Don’t forget about lip protection.  Use lip balm with a minimum of SPF 15 and reapply every hour.

Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and more frequently if swimming or sweating.
Apply it at least 30 minutes before going outside using a minimum of 2 tbsp to cover your body.   Check expiry dates on your sunscreen to make sure it is still in date.  Do not store it in hot or sun exposed areas.

Treating a Sunburn

If you or your child has a sunburn:
==>    Take cool baths and apply cool compresses to the burn.
==>    If you do not have any other medical conditions or allergies, and you are adequately hydrated, ibuprofen is sometimes recommended for the pain and inflammation.  Drink lots of fluids.
==>    24 hours later, apply moisturizers with aloe to the sunburned area.  Avoid gel sunburn products as they often contain alcohol that will dry out the skin and take it longer to heal.
==>    Watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke and go to an emergency room if you feel this is a possibility.  ( muscle cramps, weakness, nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, headache, fever, hallucinations or convulsions).

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