We all want our children to go outside and play, but do we do enough to prevent sun damaged skin? With all of the activities that we encourage our kids’ o take in every day, is it little wonder that if we don’t take the proper precautions we can be setting them up for problems later on?
Here’s an example from a local newspaper: “Soccer Tryouts for all age groups, call … for more information or report to … Field to try out…” Of course, some of the cogent facts have been left out of this such as where this was happening and who to call because it’s not germane to the article, but what is germane is the fact that here we have a listing of an all-outdoor activity for our children and that there are many people who sent their kids along to try out. (This is one of those “everyone plays” leagues, so everyone who tries out makes the team or a team.)
The key here is something we cannot know, but we can speculate about and it is that once the kids qualify for one of the teams (they usually start around tot size and end up around high-school size so that your kids are always going to or coming from a game or games or tournaments) they are just beginning their lives in the sun. They may later qualify for a cheerleading position, a place on the track team or on the band or they may just take up surfing, but whatever they do – while they are still under your roof – you do have some control over and you can protect your kids from sun-damaged skin with a little thought.
First and foremost is the right sunscreen. There are many sunscreens out there but try and choose one with aloe vera in it because aloe vera seems to help protect your skin and, by extension, your child’s skin. Be sure to take a goodly supply with you if you are going to a game or series of games because just one application of a sunscreen product will never last an entire day. With kids running up and down a soccer field sweating as they chase the soccer ball, you know that any sunscreen protection you have put on them will be gone in pretty short order and it will have to be renewed.
How often should it be renewed? The first application should be at least 30 minutes before their trip outside and if they are going in the water or are going to be perspiring heavily then the sunscreen should be renewed roughly between periods or at least every hour.
A good level of sunscreen protections (SPF) should be at least 30 if your kids are going to be in the direct afternoon light or higher and it can be somewhat lower if they are only going to be in the morning or afternoon rounds.
Meantime, when they are not playing be sure that their heads are covered – most kids don’t like hats but it is best for them if you want to protect their skin later on – and make sure that their arms and legs are either in the shade or covered also (this won’t be hard to accomplish if the weather is cold, but if the weather is hot, then you will have to try to find a way to keep them out of the sun as much as possible.
This advice should also extend beyond any playing field, as it is the best way to make sure that the sun doesn’t damage your child’s skin.