Put broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen on everyone a half hour before heading out. "You want to make sure you have enough time for the ingredients to penetrate the skin," says Sandra Johnson, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, in Little Rock. Be sure to cover often-missed spots: the lips (with SPF 30 lip balm), ears, around the eyes, neck, hands, and feet.
Go to the beach early. Hit the beach before the sun's rays get too strong, says Andrea Cambio, MD, a dermatologist in Cape Coral, Florida. (Bonus: You won't have to fight for a good spot on the sand.)
Everybody in the water! Choose a swimsuit for your child that offers maximum coverage and UV protection, like Coolibar's Neck-to-Knee Swimsuit. If she's wearing a regular suit, have her wear a sun-protective shirt. (Avoid white T-shirts, which are equivalent to only SPF 3 when wet.) Reapply sunscreen after your kids swim.
The sun's getting intense, so duck under a beach umbrella and build sand castles. But keep in mind that the sand under the umbrella reflects UV rays, so you're getting some exposure even in the shade.
Lunchtime. The sun is strongest between noon and 2:00, so take a break for a couple of hours, says Dr. Cambio. Eat lunch inside, head home or back to the hotel for a quick nap, play cards on a shady patio -- anything to get out of the sun.
Apply another coat of sunscreen before you head back outdoors. The midday sun is still strong, so spend as much time as possible under your umbrella and make sure your child keeps his hat on. If you notice any redness on his skin, take him inside immediately.
The sun's rays are no longer at their peak, so now's a good time for a swim or walk along the beach. And remember: Just because the sun's not as strong doesn't mean you can't get burned. If it's been more than two hours, be sure to reapply that sunscreen.
Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the June 2008 issue of Parents magazine.
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