CLEVELAND – If you have little kids, you know how difficult it can be to slather them up with sunscreen to protect their delicate skin from the sun.
According to Cleveland Clinic dermatologist, Melissa Piliang, MD, one childhood sunburn can increase risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
“Studies have shown that most of our sun exposure happens in childhood. We’re running around outside playing, we’re playing sports, we’re outside a lot and that’s when we get a lot of our sun exposure, so it’s really important to think about sunscreen and protection at a very young age,” said Dr. Piliang.
Regardless of the type of sunscreen you’re applying to your child, you’ll want to use a good coat that requires rubbing in.
She said waxy sunscreen sticks may be a good option for kids’ faces because they go on easily, stick well and won’t run into their eyes.
Some kids enjoy smearing this type of product all over themselves – just be sure they don’t miss any spots, like around their eyes.
Another option kids often like is a sunscreen spray. If you’re using a spray, you’ll want to make two or three passes to get a nice shiny coat and then rub it in.
Dr. Piliang said you can even let your kids take over once they’re old enough – in fact, that’s what she did with her own children.
“When they could, I would let them spray themselves while I was watching. I think it’s good for them to have that control and then they form the habit of just doing it themselves,” she said. “I would just have them go out in a well-ventilated area and watch them to make sure they didn’t miss any areas.”
If it’s a battle to sunscreen your kids, sun protective clothing is another option. These items can be worn in the water and you won’t have to reapply sunscreen to areas covered by sun-protective clothing.