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07 Feb, Tuesday
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Montreal Families

Test your sun-safety IQ

Approximately 80 per cent of harmful sun exposure occurs before the age of 18, so it is really important to slather sunscreen on your child when he or she is at the beach or pool. But how sun-smart are you when it comes to the nitty-gritty of deciphering SPFs, picking the best sunscreen, or treating a mild sunburn? Are you doing enough to protect your child from the sun’s damaging rays? Take this quiz to find out.

True or false: Babies younger than 6 months shouldn’t wear sunscreen.

Answer: False

The Canadian Dermatology Association says it’s safe for infants younger than 6 months to wear a limited amount of sunscreen on small exposed areas such as the face and neck. In general, however, babies younger than 6 months should be kept in the shade. Babies are more prone than adults to sunburn because their skin is thinner and their body’s protective tanning response isn’t
yet developed.

True or false: Your child doesn’t need to reapply sunscreen after he swims or sweats if the product he’s using is waterproof.

Answer: False

Even sunscreens labelled “waterproof” or “water-resistant” will come off in water or if rubbed. So reapply your child’s sunscreen, whether it’s labelled waterproof or not, every two to three hours. And don’t forget those sensitive areas that burn easily, such as feet, ears and noses.

True or false: A sunscreen with a SPF of 30 protects your child twice as long as one with an SPF of 15.

Answer: False

Those SPF numbers on sunscreens can create quite a bit of confusion. SPFs were developed to measure the effectiveness of sunscreens, but there are several factors that influence how well someone is protected (how much cream is used, if the person goes swimming, etc.). What parents should keep in mind is that a SPF 30 sunscreen or higher blocks 96 to 98 per cent of the sun’s rays while a SPF 15 sunscreen blocks about 93 per cent. If your kids are going to be in the sun for more than a couple of hours, opt for the higher number as the extra protection can make a difference.

True or false: It’s okay to use an adult sunscreen on your child’s skin.

Answer: True

It’s not necessary to buy one sunscreen for you and a separate one for your kids as these adult products are rarely irritating. It’s also fine for adults to use sunscreens labelled “for kids”. If your child doesn’t like wearing sunscreen, a spray-on product might make the application process easier. The Canadian Dermatology Association has created a logo that indicates if a sunscreen meets strict sun-protection norms. Check out the complete list of approved sunscreens.

Your child is at the highest risk for sunburn:

A. at the beach
B. at the pool
C. on a hike in the mountains
D. at the playground

Answer: A, B and C.

In or near the water, everyone gets a double whammy of ultraviolet radiation: harmful rays from above and those reflecting off the water. At high altitudes, the sun’s rays are also more dangerous to your child because they’re more concentrated. The sun may be less of a threat on a playground if it is shaded or has dark play surface (the sun’s rays will not reflect as much).

Kids need to start wearing sunglasses:

A. At 6 months
B. At 6 years of age
C. When they’re old enough to read

Answer: A.

Six months of age is a good time to start putting mini sunglasses on your child if you can get her to keep them on. Pint-size sunglasses that filter out 99 to 100 per cent of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays (the label will say so) can help reduce your child’s risk of age-related cataracts. Ideally, your child’s sunglasses should be made of polycarbonate, a shatterproof synthetic material that can protect her eyes from injury if she trips and falls or gets hit in the face by a ball.

The best way to soothe a child’s mild sunburn is to:

A. apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly
B. have her take a bath, then put on moisturizer
C. just leave the skin alone; it will heal faster by itself

Answer: B

The bath will cool your child off, and a basic moisturizer (doctors like Lubriderm and Keri) helps replenish dried-out skin. To reduce the inflammation, give her children’s ibuprofen within the first 48 hours, and keep her out of the sun until her sunburn is healed. If your baby gets burned, give her juice or water to replace lost fluids and call your pediatrician immediately. A severe sunburn in an infant can be dangerous.

You should replace your sunscreen:

A. Every year
B. After 2 years
C. When the bottle is empty

Answer: A.

It’s best to replace your sunscreen every summer to ensure it will offer the most effective protection for your children.

The very best way to protect your child from the sun’s burning rays is by:

A. having her wear a brimmed hat and other clothing that will block out the sun
B. keeping her in the shade
C. using a broad-spectrum sunscreen

Answer: A, B and C.

While sunscreen is important, parents should also try to keep children out of direct sunlight from late morning to mid afternoon, when the sun is strongest. If this is unrealistic, encourage kids to take frequent breaks in the shade. At the beach, make sure a child wears a hat and have her wear a shirt at least part of the day. Sun protective bathing suits and clothing are also a good idea.

It’s a good idea to apply sunscreen to your child:

A. 30 minutes before she goes out in the sun
B. 10 minutes before she goes out in the sun
C. as soon as she gets outside.

Answer: A.

The magic number is 30 minutes because sunscreen takes time to penetrate the skin.

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