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Sun Protection in Vulnerable Populations: Sun Care for Children, the Elderly, and Individuals with Photosensitivity



  • It is also advisable to bring a big umbrella with UPF protection to the beach and/or set up a tent for large gatherings.

Outdoor activities provide vitamin D, help lower stress, and promote physical activity. However, excessive UV exposure, primarily from sunlamps and tanning beds, can damage skin cells and increase the risk of skin cancer.

One of the best ways to help prevent this? Protecting the skin from UV radiation year-round, even on gloomy days. Moreover, in the continental US, UV radiation is highest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and should be avoided if your area has a UV index of 3 or higher.

In this article, we will look at the importance of sun protection to prevent damage and how it differs between children and older adults.

Sun Protection in Children: Tips for Parents and Caregivers

  1. Recognize the risks

High UV radiation poses risks to children’s sensitive skin, including skin cancer, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, cataracts, and eye conditions, even in cloudy or overcast conditions. Severe sunburn in childhood doubles skin cancer risk in adulthood. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke cases also increase due to extreme weather, so prevention is crucial.

2. Choose mineral sunscreen designed for children

Mineral (or physical) sunscreens are favored for children since they effectively block UV rays from reaching the skin while tending to be gentler. Chemical sunblocks with octinoxate and oxybenzone can be harsher as they work by absorbing into the skin. Be aware that certain sunscreens combine both mineral and synthetic ingredients.

3. Search for or create shade

Select a shady location between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for maximum UV protection. To find shade during outdoor activities, you can make plans in advance or choose covered playgrounds in parks. It is also advisable to bring a big umbrella with UPF protection to the beach and/or set up a tent for large gatherings.

4. Create a portable sun safety kit

Assemble an on-the-go sun protection kit with critical items such as sunscreen, lip balm with SPF, wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts, and sunglasses that block UV rays to safeguard your family from the sun.

Sun Care for the Elderly: Precautions and Special Considerations

5. Seek coverage during the hottest times of day

If you have mature skin, you should try to seek shade during the highest hours of UV radiation, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., to limit direct exposure to harmful UV radiation and reduce the risk of sunburn.

6. Apply sunscreen daily

Apply a broad-spectrum mineral or chemical sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 daily. Reapply it at least every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating.

7. Wear protective eyewear

Solar radiation can also harm the eyes. Therefore, it is advisable to wear sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB rays, featuring wide lenses that cover the entire eye area and extend around the edges.

Sun Protection for Individuals with Photosensitivity

Photosensitivity refers to an allergic reaction to sunlight, resulting in symptoms such as itchy rashes, blisters, or hives. Contributing factors may include medication, fragrances, and components found in sunscreens.

If you struggle with photosensitivity, you can help curb adverse reactions by applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen suitable for your skin type, reapplying every 2 hours, and wearing protective accessories such as hats and sunglasses.


Sun-induced skin damage has become very prevalent in children, the elderly, and people with skin conditions such as photosensitivity. Luckily, daily healthy habits that protect and care for the skin can help to prevent damage.


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