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Sun exposure can be hazardous to your health. People of all skin colors, from dark to light, can burn, and therefore need protection from the sun's harmful rays. Keep yourself and the children you care for safe by following these tips:

  • Apply sunscreens beginning at six months of age liberally and frequently with a SPF of at least 15. Reapply every two hours while outdoors. DO NOT APPLY SUNSCREEN TO CHILDREN UNDER SIX MONTHS OF AGE. Make sure children under six months of age wear a hat and are well protected from the sun's rays.
  • Minimize sun exposure, especially during the peak sun hours of 10 AM to 4 PM when the sun's rays are the most intense.
  • Apply sunscreens even on cloudy days, when 80 percent of the sun's rays can penetrate the clouds.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt, and pants during prolonged periods in the sun.
  • Beware of reflective surfaces; sand, snow, concrete and water can reflect up to 85 percent of the sun's damaging rays.
  • Use sunscreen with a thicker consistency to minimize the chance of sunscreen rubbed into the eyes. Don’t forget about lips – try a lip balm with SPF 15.
  • Teach children about the need for sun protection, since skin damage from sun exposure accumulates over a lifetime. One severe childhood sunburn can double the risk of developing skin cancer.
  • Check the sunscreen’s expiration date – some ingredients lose their effectiveness over time, especially in extreme temperatures. If there is no expiration date, replace it after three years.

Washington state law REQUIRES that parents give permission for the use of any medication, including sunscreen. A medical provider's authorization is not required for use of sunscreen, as long as the package directions describe use, dosage, and method of administration for the age of the child. If the parent's instructions are different from the package instructions, a medical provider's authorization is required.

Parents may provide sunscreen for their child, in the original container, labeled with the child's name. Childcare providers may also provide sunscreen after obtaining appropriate written consents (see sample on next page). Time Saving Tip: It's much easier to use one large bottle of children's sunscreen for all (or most) children (with parent consent), then it is to have parents bring a separate bottle for each child.

All medication, including sunscreen must be inaccessible to children. SUNSCREEN IS POISONOUS IF INGESTED. CALL SEATTLE POISON CONTROL CENTER AT 1-800-222-1222 IF A CHILD INGESTS SUNSCREEN.

For questions, contact your Public Health Nurse at 206-263-8262.