Guarding Our Keiki from the Summer Sun!
Written by Dr. Neel Chauhan, M.D.
Aloha, Ohana! Summer in Hawaii means the inviting warmth of the sun, sandcastles at the beach, and fun days in the parks. While we cherish these moments, it’s essential to remember our keiki have tender skin that needs protection. Let’s make sure our kids soak up the fun without the sun’s harmful effects.
Understanding Sun Safety
Contrary to the notion that a tan signifies health, even a mild tan indicates skin damage. While a tan and those cute freckles might seem healthy, they signal sun damage. Keiki have sensitive skin, and early exposure can cause lasting harm So, what’s sun safety? It’s about recognizing the sun’s potential harm and preventing it, chiefly through sunscreen.
The Sun’s Deceptive Rays
The sun sends out ultraviolet (UV) rays. 95% are UVA rays that delve deep into our skin, accelerating aging. The remaining 5% are UVB rays, targeting the skin’s surface, causing sunburns. This UV-caused skin damage is a leading cause of melanoma, a perilous skin cancer. Alarmingly, a single blistering sunburn during childhood can double melanoma risks in adulthood. And did you know? A significant chunk (around 25%) of our total sun exposure occurs before 18!
But, here’s the good news: We can prevent it!
Hawaiian Sun-Safety Tips for our Keiki
Seek the Shade
The sun’s fiercest from 11 am to 3 pm. Especially during these hours, find shaded spots for play. For our babies, always ensure they’re in complete shade, be it under a lauhala tree, a parasol, or a canopy.
Ensure our keiki are clothed to cover most of their skin. Though tank tops might seem tempting, they expose vulnerable shoulder areas. Opt for light, airy, cotton outfits. If clothes seem too sheer (a good test: if sunlight passes easily when held against a window), consider sun-protective wear available these days.
A wide-brimmed hat offers added sun defense. Bucket or surfer hats are great choices. Even better? Hats with a large peak and fabric skirting around for shielding the face, neck, and shoulders.
Protect those beautiful eyes against UVA and UVB. Invest in quality sunglasses that bear a CE, UV 400. For our active keiki, wraparound ones are ideal, ensuring sun doesn’t sneak in from the sides.
The Sunscreen Ritual
Sunscreen is our ultimate armor against UV damage. But many are baffled by the sunscreen labels. The key: ensure it offers broad-spectrum protection and apply generously. Remember, most folks, don’t use enough, compromising its benefits.
Did you know?
The sun’s UV rays can still reach you even on cloudy days or during water activities, making it essential always to stay protected.
Hawaiian Health Proverb
“Ma mua, ma hope.” – Learn from the past to prepare for the future. Just as our ancestors respected nature’s power, we must protect our keiki from the sun’s might today for their healthier tomorrow.
Mahalo for keeping our keiki safe and joyful under the Hawaiian sun!