Sun Safety Tips with certified Dermatologist, Dr. Rico!
Dr. Tace Rico is a board-certified dermatologist and medical director for pediatric dermatology at AdventHealth for Children in Orlando. An award-winning physician and scholar, she specializes in treating children with birthmarks, hemangiomas, port wine stains and scars. She is an expert in laser surgery to address skin conditions and is very sensitive to the concerns of young people with various dermatological disorders. Working with multiple different lasers, she is one of the few dermatologists in the southeast providing laser treatments for scars including burn scars.
In honor of our new Sun Smart Toys, we asked Dr. Rico to give us some tips to staying sun smart all summer long!
July 13th, 2023
What are the primary risks and dangers of sun exposure for children?
The biggest risk is skin cancer. Research has shown that even sunburns during childhood can increase the likelihood of developing skin cancers in adulthood. Sun exposure can also lead to sun poisoning, which is an extreme form of sunburn that may cause blistering, rashes, fever, headache, dizziness, nausea and dehydration.
Especially during the summer, parents should also be cognizant of the risks of heat exhaustion. The symptoms to look out for include a fever of at least 100 degrees, dizziness and fainting, excessive sweating and cold skin, weak or fast heartbeat, blurred vision and headaches. It’s best to slowly try to cool your child down by having them sit in the shade or air-conditioning, placing a cool washcloth on their forehead or back of the neck, and have them drink small sips of water or sports drink with electrolytes.
How can parents effectively protect their children's skin from harmful UV radiation?
The best way parents can protect children’s skin health is having them wear sunscreen. Make sure to use sunscreen that’s at least 70 SPF or higher, applying generously and reapplying every two hours. Look for sunblock that says broadband on it to ensure that it is protecting against UVB and UVA rays.
Sun protective clothing is a great way to protect children’s skin. It’s great for the pool or beach but also can be used for hiking and other outdoor activities. Many companies make swimsuits and sun protective clothing that has UPF in the fabric, like SPF for your clothes.
Drinking plenty of water and taking breaks in the shade is also important for anyone spending time in the sun.
Dr. Tace Rico with Adora's Sun Smart Dolls
Australia has an amazing sun safety campaign that uses the motto - Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide. It’s a fun and easy way for parents and children to remember how to protect their skin!
- Slip on a sun shirt or other sun protective clothing.
- Slop on sunscreen.
- Slap on a hat.
- Seek shade.
- Slide on wraparound sunglasses.
What are some common misconceptions about sun protection in children?
The most common misconception I hear is that you can’t get sunburned when it’s overcast or wintertime, which stops a lot of people from wearing sunscreen. The truth is you can – your skin can still be damaged on cloudy days. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds.
Another big one is the belief that people don’t sunburn if they are tan or dark-skinned. Yes, the melanin that makes someone look tan provides more protection against the sun, but it doesn’t completely protect you. It doesn’t matter if you burn or not, sun exposure still damages the skin. This is an important misconception to debunk because people who think they aren’t affected by sun damage are often spending more time in the sun and less likely to wear sunscreen, sustaining more skin damage as a result.
Parents today are better educated about the importance of wearing sunscreen but often assume that one once-over spray is going to do the trick. In fact, a study by the American Academy of Dermatology Association found that most people are only using about 25% to 50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen. The reality is sunscreen needs to be applied generously every two hours – two finger’s worth for your face and neck and an ounce for your entire body. When not applied correctly, a sunscreen that’s 70 SPF can drop down to SPF 15.
How can parents encourage their children to develop healthy sun protection habits?
The best way for parents to encourage healthy sun protection habits in their kids is to model them. Kids are much more likely to adopt behaviors and habits that they see the adults in their lives embodying, just like eating your vegetables or brushing your teeth. So, practice what you preach: wear plenty of sunscreen, reapply every 2 hours, and wear a hat or sun-protective clothing when you can.
Also, don’t wait until your child is in their swimsuit, floaties strapped on, ready to dive into the pool. The last thing they’re going to want to do is stop and apply sunscreen. Instead, make a routine to apply sunscreen before they get into their swimsuit or head outside.
Another creative strategy is to ask your child to help you apply your own sunscreen first. Some kids are also enticed by sunscreens that have sparkles in them – just make sure you check that the SPF level is at least 70 and protects against UVA and UVB rays.
Sun Safety Made Easy with AWARD WINNING Sun Smart Babies from Adora!
Adora's Sun Smart Babies are ready for outdoor fun, but be careful – play outside without sunscreen, and their doll skin turns red, just like ours! Apply any SPF 30+ sunscreen and watch as your Sun Smart Color-Changing Doll is protected from the dangers of sunburn!Shop Sun Smart Collection!
About AdventHealth for Children
AdventHealth for Children is a nationally recognized children’s hospital and network of pediatric specialists, programs and care facilities that sets the standard for innovation, quality and comprehensive care. The flagship hospital in Orlando is home to the Walt Disney Pavilion, which features Disney best practices, theming, characters and activities to make a stay in the hospital more comfortable and less stressful for young patients and their families.
The AdventHealth for Children care network includes more than 250 pediatricians and pediatric specialists practicing 35 subspecialties, community specialty clinics, pediatric rehabilitation, pediatric emergency rooms and Centra Care Kids urgent care.