Here in Arizona- the valley of the sun, the summer comes with a good amount of warmth and sunshine as it does elsewhere. The relatively low humidity improves the tolerance of the triple digit temperatures we often get here. Proper hydration orally along with sensitivity for modifications in out door sport training programs are popular recommendations. Young children however need special precautions taken in addition.
Newborns do not move as spontaneously as we would wish when compared to older children and adults in response to a painful sensation as would happen from sustained direct exposure to sunlight. This makes them vulnerable to sunburns within a few minutes of direct sunlight exposure. More than half of a lifetime exposure to the harmful rays of the sun occur in the first 20-years of life and repetitive injuries from harmful sun rays in early life can increase the average lifetime risk and set the stage for skin cancers and related conditions over many years later in adulthood. Lightweight cotton clothing covering the extremities along with wide-brimmed hats are great options for newborns aged less than 6-months and older to prevent harmful sun rays and sunburns. Sunscreens are not routinely used in infants aged 6-months and less and are discouraged without prior review and discussion with your medical provider. Preventive measures as above and avoidance of direct exposure to sun rays with attention to shaded areas help. Sunburns when they occur can be treated with cold compresses to the affected area and Vaseline skin dressings to optimize healing.
Children aged more than 6-months still need similar precautions with weather appropriate clothing when ample direct sunlight exposure is anticipated with wide-brimmed hats, and lightweight cotton apparel. Staying in the shade whenever possible and avoidance of direct exposure to sunlight should be encouraged especially between 10am to 4pm daily when the sunshine intensity is maximal. Parents should apply sunscreen of at least 15 SPF rating or more for protection. Uniform application of adequate portions of sunscreen over exposed skin is recommended with repeat applications at 2-hourly intervals. Sun shades fitted with special lenses that filter out harmful UVA and UVB rays are helpful, however direct glare into sunlight with even these on should be discouraged. Sunburns when they occur can be painful as they often affect the superficial layers of skin where sensitive nerve endings are present. Some of the usual comfort measures include OTC pain medications, cold compresses and skin dressings with Vaseline followed by prompt medical evaluation if additional concerns are present.
This information is for educational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions