Everyone in my family (husband, myself, and all three kids) has red hair, with skin sensitive to the sun. This is a difficulty, given the fact that my kids love sunshine and running around outside for hours!
Nevertheless, when we go on excursions, we have to plan ahead to make sure that none of us get too badly burned.
Obviously, since my two youngest kids are too young to take charge of their sun protection, it is up to me to make sure they stay safe. Here are some of the things I do to help keep all my redheads safe in the sun.
Block it. We are blessed to live in an era in which sunblocks are fairly efficient at blocking the dangerous rays. We use sunblock with at least SPF 50, and we reapply if we happen to be out in the sun for longer than an hour. Tip: Make sure to get forgettable places like the tips of the ears and the tops of the feet (if wearing sandals).
Cover up. For places that cannot be covered with sunscreen, it is very important to cover up. Covering up also means wearing rash guards at the pool, hats to protect scalps from nasty burns, and longer pants and shirts if an all-day excursion is in the plan. Although long shirts and pants are not ideal in warm weather, being a little warm is better than a dangerous sunburn. Hats are essential to keeping scalps from painful burns. Tip: Make sure hats not only have a wide brim but also do not have a hole in the top. I have childhood memories of getting a sunburn right on the top of my head where my adjustable hat had a small, dime-sized hole. Ouch!
Don shades. Eyes sunburn, especially baby blue light eyes. Sunglasses with 100% UV protection help protect sensitive eyes from burns. Even young children should wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from bright sun.
Pucker up. Likewise, keeping sunblock lip gloss on lips is essential. Sensitive lips are often avoided when rubbing in regular sunblock; keep lips from painful burns by wearing sunblock on the lips as well.
Seek shade. Although fair skin may still burn in the shade, the sun is less direct and kids will be less likely to develop painful burns.
Avoid it. I try to let me kids get their playtime outside before the sun reaches its peak: before 10 a.m. Inside hours are the middle of the day, and we go back out in the late afternoon or evening.
This is not always possible, as we love to be outside and are well involved with swim team, but we try to limit our time outside during the peak hours. Frequent breaks in doors helps us from getting overheated as well.
It’s not always easy to keep active kids safe in the sun. But with proper care and planning, I hope that my efforts to do so will translate into success. I hope my redheaded kids won’t have to endure painful sunburn blisters on their backs while under my care.
For more information, visit WebMD’s sunburn prevention page.
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Main image from Comas; text added.