Medical Thoughts

Our goal is to help you enjoy the journey and to ensure that you remain healthy and happy along the way.  We are thrilled and privileged to partner with you in this exciting adventure.

Each blog post is written by one of our providers who are excited to share insight and resources related to a health topic.

Written by Shalini Forbis, MD – Pediatrician

Ah, summer in Wyoming! The days are longer, the skies are clearer, and the sun is definitely shining brighter. As a parent, you might notice that the sun feels more intense here than at the beach. Well, you’re not just imagining things! For every 1,000 feet above sea level, UV intensity increases by 8-10%. So, with Lander at 5,200 feet and Riverton at 4,900 feet, our UV exposure is significantly higher. This exposure only grows for those of us who love recreating at even higher elevations.

Why does this matter? UV exposure is a major risk factor for skin cancer, with the sun being the most common source. So, protecting your kids’ skin is more important than ever. Here’s a fun guide to keeping your little ones safe under the Wyoming sun!

Sun Protection 101: The Basics

  1. Physical Barriers
  • Lightweight Clothing: Opt for UV-protective clothing for the best defense.
  • Hats: Wide-brimmed hats offer excellent protection for the face and neck.
  • Sunglasses: Shield those sensitive eyes with sunglasses that block UV rays.
  • Sunscreen: More on this in a bit, but definitely a must-have!
  1. Sun Avoidance
  • Try to keep kids out of direct sunlight between 10 AM and 4 PM when UV rays are strongest.
  1. Use Sunscreen
  • Sunscreen is essential for children aged 6 months and above. For younger infants, we’ll cover some special tips later.

Sunscreen Savvy: Tips for Kids Aged 6 Months and Up

When it comes to sunscreen, here’s what you need to know:

  • Choose Broad Spectrum: Ensure the sunscreen protects against both UV-A and UV-B rays.
  • Fragrance-Free: Go for products without added fragrances to avoid skin irritation.
  • SPF 30 or Higher: SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays.
  • Active Ingredients: Look for Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide, which are generally safe and effective.
  • Application: Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every 2 hours. If your child is swimming, reapply every 40-80 minutes.
  • Patch Test: Before the first use, do a patch test on a small area of skin to ensure there’s no reaction.
  • Expiration Date: Check the sunscreen’s expiration date to make sure it’s still effective.

Special Care for Infants (0-6 Months)

Infants have particularly sensitive skin that’s thinner and has less melanin, making them more vulnerable to the sun’s rays. Additionally, their bodies aren’t equipped to handle the chemicals in sunscreen (they can’t break them down)

. Here’s how to protect your littlest ones:

  • Avoid Direct Sunlight: Especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
  • Dress Them Right: Use light layers of clothing to cover their skin.
  • Physical Barriers: Hats, umbrellas, and sunshades are your best friends.
  • Stay Hydrated: Infants can dehydrate quickly, so keep them well-hydrated in the heat (breastmilk or formula more frequently, if needed). Please don’t give your infant water without talking to your doctor first. 

Making Sun Safety Fun!

Protecting your kids from the sun doesn’t have to be a chore. Turn it into a fun routine! Let them pick out their favorite hats or sunglasses, and make applying sunscreen a game. You can even set a timer for reapplication breaks during your outdoor adventures.

With these tips, you and your family can enjoy the beautiful Wyoming summer safely. Remember, sun protection is not just about preventing a sunburn today; it’s about ensuring healthy skin for years to come. Happy summer, and stay sun-safe!

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