Protect your family from sunburns!

With temperatures in the 80s, summer must be here! Gone are the grey clouds that keep us moist and protect us from the sun, but one of the biggest reasons we love living in Portland are the beautiful, long summer days.

Do you have to live in fear of the bright yellow sun?

Definitely not; get out there and play, but protect yourself and your family from sunburns. Your best bet to keep kids from burning is to keep them covered. Breathable long sleeves and hats can go a long way in keeping skin safe. It’s really easy to find swim-shirts and rash guards that can protect swimmers. Sunscreen works great as well, but it’s not foolproof.

First, use a sunscreen that is effective against both UVA and UVB rays and look for a protective factor of 30 or higher. Use it, and then use it again; most people do not recharge their sunscreen application after 90 minutes of swimming orstrenuous activity.

We don’t recommend use of sunscreen for kids younger than 6 months — their skin is much more absorbant, and no one is certain if the chemicals in sunscreen are safe for the little ones. For newborns and babies aged 6 months, rely on shade, long sleeves/pants and hats.

My goal is to make sure no one gets a sunburn — but sometimes they still happen.

To treat a sunburn, first, try and cool the area. Ice on small areas, or a cool bath can make it feel better. Lots of people swear by aloe vera, and it may make a sunburn feel better. There is really no data to show it makes much of a difference in terms of how long the symptoms last. Things should cool off in a day or two, but if they don’t, or if you see blisters, you may want to get it checked out by a health care professional.

Don’t forget that outdoors is outdoors, whether it is the deep woods or your backyard. Pay attention to the sun and keep your skin healthy.

Ben Hoffman, M.D.
Medical Director, OHSU Doernbecher Tom Sargent Children’s Safety Center
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital