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Summer Tips From Nurses: Sun Care for Children

Gayle Morris, BSN, MSN
Updated June 15, 2022
    Sunburns and sun poisoning in children can be serious. Pediatric nurses offer five essential tips on sun care for children this summer.
    Credit: Getty Images

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    Sunburns and sun poisoning can be very serious in children and adults. Pediatric nurses offer several ways to avoid sun burns and still have fun this summer.

    1. 1

      Cover the Skin When Possible

      Pediatric nurses know the best protection for the skin is to cover up with a long sleeve shirt and long pants. In cooler, sunnier climates, this is easier than if you’re in a hotter climate.

      Consider lightweight, breathable fabric to reduce risk of overheating if you’re wearing long shirts and pants in the heat.

    2. 2

      Avoid the Hottest Times of Day

      Similarly, Christine Russo, a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner, recommends avoiding the hottest times of the day, between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. To reduce both sun and heat exposure, plan indoor events for the hottest times of day when the sun is most intense.

      “Wearing sunhats and swim shirts can limit sun exposure. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to going outdoors,” she says.

    3. 3

      Use at Least 30-50 SPF Sunscreen

      Jenna Liphart Rhoads, Ph.D., is a nurse educator, freelance author, and editor. She reminds caregivers that children should use sun protection factor (SPF) 30-50 on all exposed skin, including the tops and backs of the ears and the tops of the feet.

      “Signs of sunburn are skin turning pink or red and cannot always be seen at a distance when a sunburn is beginning,” she sys. “It is best to also encourage children to play in the shade.”

    4. 4

      Hats Are Key to Protecting Against Long-Term Sun Exposure

      Caregivers can encourage their children to wear a hat that shades their neck and scalp. Baseball caps can help protect the face, but they leave the back of the neck and ears exposed.

      Be sure to use sunscreen to protect those areas.

    5. 5

      Don’t Forget to Protect Your Eyes

      Children can also wear sunglasses to help protect the eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays. Long exposure to the sun can increase the risk of cataracts later in life.

      Kid-safe sunglasses block both UVA and UVB rays. They should fit well over the child’s face and be comfortable for the child.

    Meet Our Contributors

    Portrait of Christine Russo, MSN, CPNP-PC, CPEN, TCRN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Stony Brook Childrens Hospital

    Christine Russo, MSN, CPNP-PC, CPEN, TCRN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Stony Brook Childrens Hospital

    Christine Russo discovered her love for pediatrics in the emergency department at Stony Brook University Hospital. She became a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner in 2021 and works with the pediatric trauma program at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital and as an NP at a local primary care office.


    Portrait of Jenna Liphart Rhoads, Ph.D.

    Jenna Liphart Rhoads, Ph.D.

    Jenna Liphart Rhoads is a nurse educator and freelance author/editor. She earned a BSN from Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing and a master’s in nursing education from Northern Illinois University. Liphart Rhoads earned a Ph.D. in education with a concentration in nursing education from Capella University. Her clinical background includes surgical-trauma adult critical care, interventional radiology procedures, and conscious sedation in adult and pediatric populations. Liphart Rhoads has taught in traditional BSN, RN-BSN, and graduate nursing programs in Illinois, Texas, and Wisconsin.