Protecting your children’s skin from the harmful rays of the sun is so important as sunburns in childhood increase the risk of skin cancer later in life. Plus, no parent wants to see their little one suffer with a painful sunburn.
Most parents today are diligent about using sunscreen on their kids, but many may not realize they aren’t using it properly. Here are five common mistakes parents make when using sunscreen on their children and how to fix them.
Sunscreen Mistake #1: Not applying sunscreen before heading outdoors
Sunscreen needs 15 to 30 minutes to be absorbed into your skin, so it is crucial that you apply sunscreen before going to the pool, beach or playground. This will also ensure you apply sunscreen evenly instead of trying to cover a wiggly, excited toddler who’s anxious to go play. And who wants the added torture of listening to your kids whine because they have to wait at least 15 minutes before jumping in the water?
Sunscreen Mistake #2: Not applying enough
Dermatologists recommend at least one ounce of sunscreen for each application – enough to fill a shot glass -- or more depending on the person’s size. If you apply too little, you won’t get the full benefits of the SPF protection. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to areas like the ears, scalp, feet and lips. Dermatologists also do not recommend spray sunscreens because they do not cover evenly, but if you do choose to use a spray, just be sure to rub it in after spraying on the skin.
Mistake #3: Not reapplying often enough
At the very minimum, you should reapply sunscreen every two hours to dry skin. But if your kids are swimming or sweating, you’ll want to reapply more often. Choose a water-resistant sunscreen but just remember that even water-resistant formulas need to be reapplied and even if a sunscreen is labeled “water resistant,” the FDA only allows a maximum claim of 80 minutes.
Mistake #4: Using expired sunscreen
Sunscreens have expiration dates printed on the bottle. It is best not to use a product after its expiration date as it may not be as effective. If your bottle from last summer has expired, throw it out and buy a new bottle.
Mistake #5: Relying only on sunscreen for sun protection
Sunscreen is important but it should not be the only tool you use for sun protection, especially for children. If you are going to be outdoors for long periods, putting a hat on your child as well as dark clothing can add another layer of sun protection. Many companies make sun protective clothing with built-in SPFs, such as swimsuits and rash guards, which are great for covering up kids on the beach or in the water. Be sure to seek shade from an umbrella or tree when outdoors for long stretches of time.