Valerie Dufort-Roy | Klish Way
|Cartoon John Dempsey 2001.
Click to enlarge.
As many of you, I enjoy the softer sun bathing Del Mar on most days. However, since I became a Mom, 8 years ago, my awareness to the potential damage from the sun increased. Yes, there is such a thing as Pediatric Skin Cancer. In fact, most skin cancers would result directly from exposure to ultraviolet, UV rays, present in sunlight (Cancer.org).
There are a few types of UVs. The more damaging type is called UVB, and causes sunburns, hence, is to blamed for DNA changes resulting in skin cancers (cancer.org). The more benign UVA generates wrinkles and aging of the skin. The UV level varies from season to season, from day to day, and from hour to hour. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) UV chart ranges of 0 (low danger) to 11 (extreme risk of harm to unprotected skin and eyes). As a rule of thumb, the San Diego UV during 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. is low in December and January, climbs to high (6-7) by April, and ramps up to an extreme (10-11) from May through September.
While thick clouds can block most of the UV radiation, thin or broken clouds will allow all the rays to reach your child’s sensitive skin! Check on your weather channel for daily index or download the EPA SunWise UV Index app!
As a parent, I have explored a number of sun-safe ideas for my family. Here are my findings:
• Protective clothing & timing: wide-brimmed hat covering neck and ears is a fantastic investment for your child (and you too!). My daughter has been wearing her adjustable “Sunday Afternoons” hat for years! In addition to wearing a good hat, dress smart! Dense fabric clothing that will not absorb the damageable rays is key. The brand “Coolibar” has great options for the entire family. How about long-sleeves and knee length swimming suit for your little one? In addition, consider hitting the beach before the tourists! Easy parking, sparse crowd, and low UVs!
• Safe sunscreen: The Environmental Working Group (EWG) annually lists the safest sunscreen for your family and you. A couple of well-rated finds at our local pharmacy are the “thinkbaby” SPF 50+ as well as the “babyganics” mineral sunscreen stick SPF50+.
ps: Don’t be fooled by their name, they work on adults too…
• Sunglasses: Besides being an incredible fashion statement, sunglasses offer significant protection to your child’s eyes, against cataracts and macular denegeration (skincancer.org). A few features to appreciate are 99% UVA/UVB protection, impact resistant, polarized, and wrap around. We had good luck with the brand “Real Shades,” and found other great choices at REI, below $30.
• Spreading the word! Are the students reminded to wear hats and sunscreen at your child’s school? Is there sufficient shade available on the playground to play when UV is at peak? Is your child’s teacher well informed on the topic? The EPA offers a panoply of educative material for schools, through their SunWise Program. It is estimated that since its inception, over 15 years ago, the SunWise program has prevented thousands of cases of skin cancer. Food for thought…
With a saddening estimation that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, let’s start early to establish good sun-safe habits. Who is in?
This article is intended to provide practical tips on sun protection, and not medical advice.