Overcast   68.0F  |  Forecast »

Sunscreen in Winter? Why It's Key for Kids, All Year Long

It's not just for summer. Avoid burns and protect your kids from the risk of melanoma with proper sun protection, whatever the weather.

During the cold and dreary winter months, most Michiganders are looking forward to the return of sunshine and warm weather. What most families aren't thinking about is sunscreen usage – or protecting their children from the harsh ultraviolet rays that are beaming down on us year round.

A mere one in four kids use sunscreen regularly, notes a recent study published in Pediatrics. And adolescents who get sunburned at an early age are twice as likely to develop melanoma, a common type of skin cancer, later in life, according to the study.

But it doesn't have to be that way. Skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society – just as long are you're aware of when and how to protect yourself and your kids.

Decrease in sunscreen usage

In a study called "Prospective Study of Sunburn and Sun Behavior Patterns During Adolescence," researchers focused on the sunscreen application habits of 360 fifth graders.

In just a few years, they found a severe downward slide. About half the kids said they regularly applied sunscreen in 2004. By 2007, when the researchers followed up with the same children, that number was down to 25 percent.

By the time the kids in the study turned 14, they were 60-70 percent less likely to wear sunscreen out regularly during the summer months, the study found.

The tanning dilemma

The study also found that three-year span between ages 11 and 14 "is a critical time in developing attitudes about tanning and wearing sunscreen, especially among girls," notes a WebMD article about the study.

Whether it's coming from the sun or the tanning beds, exposure to UV light radiation can be modified to reduce the risk of developing melanoma, WebMD reports.

Not just for summer months

Just because the sun isn't beating down doesn't mean its damaging rays aren't making their way through the clouds.

Dr. Joanna Gammons, a board certified dermatologist at Gammons Wellness and Dermatology in Royal Oak, says many people have misconceptions about the necessity of protecting their skin during the winter months.

"A lot of people say you don't need to wear it because there's no sun, but you absolutely need to," Gammons says. She adds that rays that are damaging to the skin – and can cause skin cancers – still get through.

"Reflection of radiation from snow requires aggressive sunscreen protection – maybe even more than summertime as individuals participate in snow activities like skiing and snowboarding," Dr. Alex A. Khadavi, founder of Advanced Skin & Hair, told Stylelist. "Almost 80 percent of UV radiation is reflected from snow, while only 25 percent from sand."

Tips on how to protect your kids year round

Getting children in the habit of regularly using sunscreen during any season of the year is difficult, Gammons says.

"(Sunscreen) is sticky and burns their eyes, but they need to use it," she says.

Gammons recommends that parents find a formula that agrees with their child's skin, is gentle and PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid)-free. She also recommends using stick-style sunscreen instead of liquid on children's faces, because it is less likely to run into their eyes.

Encourage your kids to develop a sunscreen habit early on in life, because from birth to 30 years old, we're most prone to skin damage, she says, adding, "It's all about education."

The Pediatrics study noted that at least 50 percent of kids experience sunburns before age 11 – and again three years later. So, it concluded, "Targeting children in pediatric offices and community settings regarding unprotected UV exposure may be a practical approach."

Old to new | New to old
Feb 21, 2012 10:54 am
 Posted by  Drrobinforkids

Thanks for a great, well researched article. As a pediatric dermatologist a big part of my job Is educating parents and children about the importance of sun protection everyday, not just on sunny days. I appreciate your efforts. Thanks, Dr. Robin Schaffran, MD.

Mar 2, 2012 10:51 pm
 Posted by  Snowskin Sunscreen

Thank you so much for posting such a great article on winter sun safety! It's an important part of skin care education that we seem to be missing here in the USA. Keep up the good work, and know that we're here supporting you all the way!

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Medication Mistakes Common and Dangerous, New Study Finds

Medication Mistakes Common and Dangerous, New Study Finds

Recent findings published in Pediatrics show that nearly 40 percent of parents make measuring errors for their kid's medicine. Why is this happening and what can you do to prevent it?

Craft Roundup: Fun Summer Projects for Kids

Craft Roundup: Fun Summer Projects for Kids

Beat vacation boredom with these four cool ideas from blogs, including Popsicle holders, printable sewing cards, jellyfish handprint bookmarks and more.

5 Tips to Get Your Kids Interested in Cooking

5 Tips to Get Your Kids Interested in Cooking

From picking out ingredients to concocting their own culinary creations, here are a few ways to encourage your children to help out in the kitchen.

Family Picnic Recipes and Ideas

Family Picnic Recipes and Ideas

Head to the park or on a hike and make the great outdoors your dinner spot. Here are six ideas to help you plan your meal – from drink to dessert.

Book Review: Three Fun Summer Craft Reads for the Family

Book Review: Three Fun Summer Craft Reads for the Family

Want a few simple, fun sewing ideas for the kids, projects to brighten up their rooms or maybe just tips for DIY tinkering? These authors have you covered.

Dad Claims African Land, Declares Daughter is a Princess

Dad Claims African Land, Declares Daughter is a Princess

A father from Virginia claims a patch of desert in Egypt, calls it the Kingdom of North Sudan – just so his daughter can be the princess of this region.

Spray-on Sunscreen Warnings for Kids: FDA Investigates Safety

Spray-on Sunscreen Warnings for Kids: FDA Investigates Safety

Parents might want to think twice before using this alternative to lotion sunscreen as the Food and Drug Administration investigates its potential risks.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement