Sun and Skin Safety

Now that the warm weather is in full force, kids are eager to enjoy outdoor activities. Unfortunately, excessive exposure to the sun can cause suffering and even permanent damage if the proper precautions are not taken. Melanoma accounts for up to three percent of all pediatric cancers. Ninety percent of pediatric melanoma cases occur in girls aged 10-19. Between 1973 and 2001, melanoma incidence in those under 20 rose 2.9 percent. As a result, more parents may want to practice preventive measures.

  • Skin Care

      Sun and Skin Safety 
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      Practice "The Shadow Rule" - When you are outside, if your shadow is shorter than you are, it means UV rays are intense and you need to be extra careful.

      Lather Up - Apply sunscreen and lip balm specifically made for children with an SPF of at least 30. The label should say "broad spectrum coverage," which gives protection from both UVA and UVB rays. While swimming, children should wear water resistant sunscreen.

      Lather Generously - Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to the entire body, 30 minutes prior to going outdoors; reapply every 2 hours or after excessive sweating or swimming Sunscreen should be re-applied every 90 minutes or according to directions.

      Clothe Up - Outfit children with a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves and sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection. Sun protective clothing with a UPF rating of 50 or higher provides protection, as well.

      Minimize Sun Exposure - Even when precautions are followed, it is best to minimize the amount of sun exposure during the peak hours of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

      Seek Shade - Look for areas to stay in the shade. Avoid direct exposure between 10am and 4pm.

      Protect Newborns - Keep newborns out of the sun. From 0 to 6 months, sunscreen is not recommended because a baby’s skin is too sensitive. Instead, keep your baby out of direct sunlight as much as possible by using proper clothing, umbrellas, canopies, and trees to provide shade for your little one. A child older than six months should wear sunscreen every day, even if it’s overcast.

      It's Not Just For Sunny Days - Remember that water, sand, and snow reflect the sun. Even on overcast day, clouds allow 70-80% UV penetration.

  • Preventing Pediatric Melanoma

      Wear sunscreen!Know The Warnings - Parents should learn the warning signs of melanoma, which include: asymmetrical moles; irregular edges around a mole; moles that are generally black or brown in color; moles with diameters bigger than a pencil eraser.  Look for the “ugly duckling” sign- one mole that looks different from all the other moles on the body.

      Know Your Child's Skin - About half of all children with melanoma do not follow the pattern above, so it is important to identify any suspicious growths on your child's body and alert a pediatrician. A significant number of pediatric melanomas have well-defined edges and are light in color. This discrepancy can contribute to a delay in a child being diagnosed.

      Preventable - When identified early, melanoma is 100 percent curable. Left untreated, this type of cancer can spread to other parts of the body.

      Learn more about the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, which has been ranked one of the top pediatric cancer centers by U.S. News & World Report.

  • Bites and Stings

      Preventing Bites and Stings

      Avoid Breeding Grounds - Mosquitoes breed in areas such as still pools or ponds during hot weather. Remove standing water from birdbaths, buckets, etc. Try to avoid the outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, at dusk and dawn.

      Frequently Check for Ticks - When in tick territory, like heavily wooded areas, frequently check for ticks in key places like your scalp, back of neck, armpits, groin and behind your knees. Check pets too. Remove any you find immediately.

      Use Insect Repellant - Repellants that contain 10 to 30 percent DEET (N-N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) are approved for mosquitoes, ticks and other bugs. Follow the instructions carefully and don’t overuse the product.

      Keep Covered - When in wooded areas, tuck in your clothes and remain as covered as possible.

      Do Not Disturb - Leave bee and wasp nests alone,

      Do Not Swat - Swatting at buzzing insects can lead to stings if they feel threatened.

      Be Aware - Be aware of spiders that may hide in undisturbed wood piles, seldom-opened boxes or corners behind furniture.

      When to Seek Medical Help

      If your child shows any signs of a systemic allergic reaction, get to the emergency department immediately. Syptoms include:

      - Shortness of breath and or wheezing
      - Redness or hives over most of the body
      - Swelling of the face, lips or tongue
      - Throat closing
      - Nausea
      - Vomiting
      - Muscle aches or cramps
      - Weakness
      - Fever

  • Itchy Skin

      Poisonous plants can be anywhere from the woods to your own backyard. Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac are all green leaf plants making them hard to identify and easy to blend in with other non rash-causing plants.

      All three plants contain the rash-causing substance called urushiol, a colorless, odorless oil on the leaves of the plants. Urushiol causes an allergic reaction, rash and sometimes swelling, in 60 to 80 percent of people who come in contact.


      Learn to identify poison ivy, oak and sumac. Be extra careful if the leaves look shiny

      Avoid areas you know these plants live.

      Wear long sleeves and long pants when you are in areas that could contain poison plants.

      Be cautious of pets if they explored areas where poisonous plants could live, they can spread the oil from their hair or fur to your skin.


      Reactions can occur as little as hours after contact, up to five days after contact. Typically, skin becomes red, swollen, blistered and will itch.

      Wash skin right away. 

      Take a shower, not a bath. Bath water can break the oil to other areas of your body.

      It is best practice to consult a physician if you have any rash, especially if you have a fever too.

      Cool showers and calamine lotions are often recommended to treat rashes caused by poinson ivy and similar plants.

      In severe cases, a liquid or pill medication called an antihistamine might be needed to decrease itching or redness. (A steroid is another kind of medication that could be prescribed to take orally or applied directory on the rash.)


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