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How to Avoid the Negative Effects of Prolonged Sun Exposure

At Little Wiggles & Giggles, We Want Kids to Be Safe While Out in the Sun

With summer in full swing, this month we will explain how to avoid the negative effects of prolonged sun exposure. Last month, Little Wiggles & Giggles Learning Center shared safe and fun ways to play outside. Since kids play outside a lot over the summer, they’re susceptible to prolonged sun exposure. Therefore, it’s important they take steps to avoid the negative effects of sun exposure. Such steps include:

  • Applying sunscreen before going outside.
  • Wearing protective clothing as often as possible.
  • Trying to seek shade regularly.
  • Taking vitamin D supplements.

Apply Sunscreen Often to Stave Off the Harmful Effects of Sun Exposure

Harmful effects of sun exposure result from ultraviolet (UV) rays. When you apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, you block and absorb UV rays. The most effective sunscreen is broad-spectrum, water-resistant.

Water-resistant sunscreen continues preventing the effects of sun exposure while swimming or sweating, which both take place outside in the summer. When you apply sunscreen that’s broad spectrum, it protects you from both UVA and UVB rays.

Generally, dermatologists recommend people apply sunscreen with a 30-Sun Protection Factor (SPF.) SPF measures how long UV radiation would take to burn the skin when you apply sunscreen versus time without sunscreen. So, when you apply sunscreen with SPF-30 it takes 30 times longer to burn than without sunscreen.

Protective Clothing Outside Helps Prevent the Effects of Sun Exposure

Even if you apply sunscreen to prevent any harmful effects of sun exposure, wearing protective clothing helps as well. Long-sleeved shirts, pants, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses keep UV rays from burning the covered skin. Wearing protective clothing to prevent sun exposure is compounded when applying sunscreen to your face and other exposed areas.

If possible, you should wear protective clothing made of a tightly woven fabric or with a UV protection factor (UPF.) Much like SPF, UPF measures how much UV radiation a fabric will reach your skin. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a minimum UPF of 30 and highly suggests 50 UPF or higher.

To Evade the Effects of Sun Exposure, Seek Shade as Often as Possible

After applying sunscreen to kids and even if they wear protective clothing, it’s important they seek shade during the summer. According to the American Cancer Society, when kids seek shade, they reduce their exposure to UV rays. The effects of sun exposure are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. every day. We recommend that kids seek shade if their shadows are shorter than they are.

Vitamin D Supplements Can Stop Damaging Effects of Sun Exposure

The effects of sun exposure aren’t always negative. Positive effects of sun exposure include getting large doses of vitamin D. When directly exposed to sunlight, the body produces vitamin D naturally. To get healthy levels of vitamin D without the negative effects of sun exposure, consider taking vitamin D supplements.

What Are the Benefits of Vitamin D and Effects of Vitamin D Deficiency?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. It regulates calcium absorption and phosphorus. This vitamin also facilitates proper function of the human immune system. The National Institute of Health links low vitamin D levels to higher risks of anxiety, depression, hypertension, and stroke.

Vitamin D deficiency symptoms include tiredness, severe bone or muscle pain, and stress fractures in the legs, pelvis, and hips. Be careful not to take too many vitamin D supplements, though. Vitamin D toxicity can increase your blood calcium levels and cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dehydration, and confusion.

Understand the Sources of Vitamin D Sans the Effects of Sun Exposure

Taking vitamin D supplements ensures kids take the recommended vitamin D allowance. The recommended dietary allowances for vitamin D for infants and babies up to 12 months is 10 mcg. Children and teens should have 15 mcg every day. Foods that include Vitamin D include:

  • Canned tuna
  • Certain fortified cereals and oatmeal
  • Egg yolk
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Fortified yogurt
  • Mushrooms
  • Shrimp

How Much is Too Much that Result in Negative Effects of Sun Exposure?

How do you know how long kids can stay in the sun before experiencing the negative effects of sun exposure? Since you can’t see or feel UV rays, it’s difficult to know the answer. The higher the sun is in the sky, the stronger the radiation is on Earth. Stronger UV radiation levels result from the thinning o-zone layer.

The UV Index (UVI) measures the current intensity of UV radiation. You are more likely to get sunburned with a higher UV index. Also, different skin types experience the negative effects of sun exposure faster than others.

How Long Can You Be Outside Before Getting Too Much Sun Exposure

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, UV radiation leads to sunburn in kids between 10 and 60 minutes. Kids with very light skin, with freckles, reddish or strawberry blond hair, or blue or gray eyes get sunburned in 10 minutes. Children with darker skin without freckles can remain in the sun without sun burning for more than 60 minutes.

At Little Wiggles & Giggles Learning Center, we take care of children in the winter and all year long. For more information about our childcare services, call us at (570) 208-9125. Like us on Facebook and follow us for updates. We’d be happy to explain more about how to avoid the negative effects of prolonged sun exposure.