Tan Does Not Mean Healthy!

Sun Safety Tips for Kids
Photo from Getty Images

Since the Food and Drug Administration has not been regulating the sunscreen industry the Environmental Working Group (EWA) has developed a database evaluating sunscreens. This week we have posted interesting facts about sunscreen.

Today we will share the EWA’s tips on keeping children safe from the sun.

The EWA explains that kids are more vulnerable to sun damage than adults. A few blistering sunburns in childhood can double a person’s lifetime chances of developing serious forms of skin cancer. The best sunscreen is a hat and shirt. After that, protect kids with a sunscreen that’s effective and safe. Take these special precautions with infants and children:


Infants under six-months should be kept out of direct sun as much as possible. Their skin is not yet protected by melanin.

When you take a baby outside:

  • Cover up with protective clothing, tightly woven but loose-fitting, and a sun hat.
  • Make shade with a stroller’s canopy or hood. If you can’t sit in a shady spot, put up an umbrella.
  • Avoid midday sun — take walks in the early morning or late afternoon.
  • Follow product warnings for sunscreen on infants under six-months old – Most manufacturers advise against using sunscreens on infants or urge parents and caregivers to consult a doctor first. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that small amounts of sunscreen can be used on infants as a last resort when shade can’t be found.

Toddlers and Children

Sunscreen plays an essential part of any day in the sun. However, young children’s skin is especially sensitive to chemical allergens as well as the sun’s UV rays.

When choosing a sunscreen, keep these tips in mind:

  • Test the sunscreen by applying a small amount on the inside of the child’s wrist the day before you plan to use it. If an irritation or rash develops, try another product. Ask the child’s doctor to suggest a product less likely to irritate a child’s skin.
  • Slop on sunscreen and reapply often, especially if the child is playing in the water or sweating a lot.
  • Send the child their own sunscreen for daycare and school. Some childcare facilities provide sunscreen for the kids, but you should send their own brand if you prefer a safer, more effective brand.

Sun Safety at School

Sometimes school and daycare policies interfere with children’s sun safety. Many schools treat sunscreen as a medicine and require the child have written permission to use it. Some insist that the school nurse apply it. Other schools ban hats and sunglasses on campus.

Here are a few questions to ask your school:

  • What is the policy on sun safety?
  • Is there shade on the playground?
  • Are outdoor activities scheduled to avoid midday sun?


Tan does not mean healthy! Teenagers coveting bronzed skin are likely to sunbathe, patronize tanning salons, or buy self-tanning products. Not good ideas. Researchers believe increasing UV exposure may have caused the marked increase in melanoma incidence among women born after 1965. Tanning beds expose the skin to as much as 15 times the UV radiation of the sun and likely contributed to melanoma increases. Many chemicals in self-tanning products have not been tested for safety; the major self-tanning chemical, dihydroxyacetone, is not approved by FDA for use in cosmetics around the eyes.

Here are a few more tips for teens:

  • Make sunscreen a habit for every outdoor sport and activity.
  • Find sun-protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses that you like to wear.
  • Parents and caregivers need to be good role models – let the teen see you protecting yourself from the sun.

Do you think the family you work for practices proper sun safety?


  1. I worked for a dermatologist once and he said that tans and freckles are sun damage. Meanwhile, some parents (and nannies and aupairs) think suntans look good. 18 yrs after a sunburn you will have skin cancer in the same spot. I agree with taxing tanning salons and they ought to be illegal.

  2. I have extremely light sensitive eyes and this impacts (or can become a convenient excuse)when and where I'm outside with my charges on sunny days. This has been helpful with the families that don't seem as concerned as others that I have worked for.I would say most of the families I have worked for are very good about sun protection.One former family I cite as an example to the ones who aren't diligent, as I will share their story.MB in this job used to do a lot of suntanning when she was young and did develop skin cancer on the face. She had it removed and ending up with some scarring. So she had corrective surgery done on her face to minimize those.OMG, her face looked like a pizza would that lost it's cheese and other toppings. Yeah she did let her kids see it send a message as to why they shouldn't tan now. But what she also had to do for treatment during that time was painful too.I had no desire to ever get even a slight tan after that.

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