Many of us have chased our kiddos around with a bottle of sunscreen during the summer. We know how important it is for their skin health *and* for their comfort, as the sun can burn their tender skin in short order during the hot days of summer.
But in the winter, we may not think about it. The UVB rays that cause sunburn aren’t as strong… but the UVA rays that can cause skin cancer still are. And there’s evidence that snow reflects UVA rays more than sand or grass do… so being outdoors for long periods with unprotected skin during winter can be risky.
Between UVA rays and the effects of cold, dry air, our children’s skin needs some extra protection come winter.
Here are 5 things you can do to keep your kids’ skin healthy without giving up that important daily fresh air and activity outside.
1) Use sunscreen. Yes, even in winter. Apply it a half-hour before taking your little ones outside, so it has time to absorb *and* so it’s not still sitting, wet, on the surface of their skin when it hits the freezing outdoor air. Note: avoid using sunscreen on babies younger than 6 months – just keep them covered instead.
2) Get them a balaclava. Many of our Brightling kids have these great winter hats that cover most of the skin on their faces, too.
3) Moisturize when they come in. The cold air can dry their skin, which can lead to chapping. Once their outdoor clothes are off, use a soft towel to dry their faces (dabbing, not rubbing), and then apply some warm, unscented, alcohol-free moisturizing cream to their cheeks, chin, and forehead. (You can warm moisturizer by rubbing it between your hands for a few seconds before applying it – or even popping it in the microwave for a few seconds. If you’re using the microwave, put it in a little container first, heat it no more than 10 seconds at a time, and stir it well before testing it on your own skin first. Like a baby bottle, the cream is “body temperature” when you can’t feel it if you touch it to the inside of your wrist.)
4) Keep baths on the cooler side of warm. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the warmer the water, the more drying it is. Experts say it’s fine to bathe your child every day in winter, but make sure the water isn’t too warm, and they don’t stay in too long. A 10-minute lukewarm bath ought to do it – and if the water cools too quickly, you can always add warm water to bring the temperature back up a little. Use soap that doesn’t contain fragrances or deodorants (these can be drying to the skin), and moisturize after the bath, too.
5) Petroleum jelly can help. If it’s windy, consider adding a layer of petroleum jelly to unprotected skin on your child’s face, to cut the sting and prevent chapping. You can apply it to little lips, too, for the same reason.