Safe Sun Exposure Advice from Dr. Cynthia Eckert
The weather is turning warm, and the sun is shining! With more skin showing, it’s important to protect our skin from the sun. Damage to our skin caused by the sun can lead to long-term issues, including premature aging and cancer. During pregnancy, melasma is worsened by sun exposure as well.
Some key safety tips include:
- Limit time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 AM and 2 PM.
- Wear clothing to cover skin exposed to the sun, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, sunglasses, and broad-brimmed hats.
- The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone use sunscreen that protects against UV-A and UV-B rays. Water-resistant with a high sun protection factor (SPF) helps. Using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 blocks 97% of the sun’s rays.
- Apply sunscreen 15 minutes prior to exposure and reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours and more often if you’re sweating or jumping in and out of the water. If your skin is fair, you may want a higher SPF. Use enough to cover your entire face and body.
- Even when it is overcast, the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays penetrate the clouds.
- Seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, and using sunscreen are all important in reducing the risk of skin cancer.
As an FDA-regulated product, sunscreens must pass certain tests before they are sold.
There is not one preferred choice for pregnant women. There is no published information to date suggesting that sunscreens cause an effect on the developing fetus. Sunscreens can prevent blistering sunburns, which can become infected and lead to other complications for pregnant women.
Store sunscreen away from direct sun by wrapping it in towels or keeping it in the shade. Containers can also be kept in coolers.
Infants and Children
We do not recommend sunscreens for infants. The FDA recommends that parents keep infants out of the sun during the hours of 10 and 2 and use protective clothing if they have to be in the sun.
Infants are at greater risk of sunscreen side effects such as a rash than adults. The best protection for infants is to keep them out of the sun entirely. Ask your doctor before applying sunscreen to children under six months of age.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents follow the same guidelines by applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen before going outside and adding layers of sun protection using clothing, hats, and sunglasses.
They also recommend keeping children out of the sun between 10 and 4 but if they are outdoors in the hottest times of day, make sure to take frequent shade breaks.