It’s back to school season, and just because summer vacation is coming to a close doesn’t mean that it’s okay to forget about sun safety. Outdoor physical education classes, sports practices, and recesses are all times for sun exposure. There are a few tips we can follow in the time leading up to the first day, so that we can send our kids back to school worry-free. Practicing sun safety ourselves, teaching our kids about the importance of sun protection, and sending our kids to school prepared to spend time in the sun will all help to minimize the risk of getting a sunburn at school.

Helping your kids develop sun safe habits is a must. One bad sunburn in childhood doubles the lifetime risk of developing the most serious form of skin cancer, melanoma. We can show our kids how sun protection should be part of their daily routines by applying sunscreen, and wearing hats, protective clothing, and sunglasses ourselves, on a regular basis.

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Also, explaining to our kids why they need to use sun protection is just as important as making them wear it in the first place. If they know why they should be wearing sunscreen, hats, sun-protective clothing, and sunglasses while outdoors, they may be more likely to use these methods while they’re at school, without a parent or guardian telling them to do so. Tell your kids that if they don’t wear sunscreen, they could get a painful sunburn. If your kids are old enough to understand, explain to them that unprotected sun exposure could lead to skin cancer and wrinkles when they get older.

To help your kids be sun safe at school, have them apply their first layer of sunscreen at home, and send them to school wearing their hat and sunglasses. Also, don’t forget to send your kids to school with sunscreen so that they can reapply it throughout the day. If your child has skin type I or II and sunburns easily, you may also want to consider sending them with protective clothing. To encourage your kids to actually wear their hat and sunglasses at school, you could take them shopping to have them pick out ones that they like. Also, it’s possible to be allergic to sunscreen¹, so testing a small amount on your child before school starts will help to prevent any potential allergic reactions from developing while they’re at school.

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It’s a good idea to check the school policy before sending your kids with sunscreen. Some schools don’t restrict the use of sunscreen, while others require it to be labeled with the child’s name, and some even require a doctor’s note. If your child is too young to apply sunscreen themselves, try writing a note to their teacher asking them to apply sunscreen to your child. Keep in mind, some schools may not allow teachers to apply sunscreen to their students, so your child may have to do their best to apply it on their own.

For more sun safety tips for kids, check out our previous post.

  1. Bassett, C. (2013). Am I really allergic to my sunscreen? Retrieved August 31, 2016