Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Sunscreen and kids with sensory needs: exactly how to apply it

Applying sunscreen to a child with sensory issues can be a challenge; ditto for getting them to wear a hat. So can outdoor life during the summer, for children who have challenges regulating their body temperature. I got some great pointers from Vikash S. Oza, MD, assistant professor of dermatology and pediatrics at the Ronald O Perelman Department of Dermatology at New York University School of Medicine and a spokesperson for the Society for Pediatric Dermatology
What advice do you have for applying sunscreen to a child with sensory processing issues?  
Applying and wearing sunscreen can pose a challenge to children with tactile sensory disorders. A couple of tips: 1) Make it fun – sing a silly song for sunscreen time. 2) Make it a game; pretend you’re going through the sunscreen car wash. 3) Try spray-based sunscreen: Spray on your hand then rub them in. 4) Use roll-on sunscreen for challenging areas like the central face and back of the neck. 5) Try distraction if all else fails—a tablet or phone may be a necessary evil.
If a child can't handle the feel of sunscreen on their skin, what about wearing clothing with UPF? (That's the clothing equivalent of SPF—it stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor.)
Limiting the amount of skin that is exposed directly to the sun with sun protective clothing can limit battles over sunscreen. Make use of lightweight long sleeve clothing, rash guards and wide-brimmed hats.
A recent FDA study found that several active ingredients in sunscreen can seep into the bloodstream at levels that exceed the FDA's recommended threshold. These ingredients include avobenzone, oxybenzone, otocrylene and ecamsule. What are safe ingredients to look for? 
Both zinc and titanium have generally recognized as safe and effective sunscreen ingredients by the FDA.
Some children with disabilities can heat up more than other children when it's hot outside, as they have issues regulating their temperatures. Do you have any tips for helping to keep their bodies/skin cool when they are outdoors at the beach, at an amusement  park or anywhere where they might end up baking in the sun? 
As every parent knows, there is no one size fits all solution. Children with ASD and/or sensory processing disorders have diverse needs and often require creative and unique solutions. Keep to the shade for both sun protection and avoid overheating. Be prepared—a spray bottle with water and cooled towels can help.
What is a good way to help a child with intellectual disability understand why sunscreen is important—how can a parent explain it? 
To explain why we use sunscreen, keep it simple: "The sun can cause burns that help our skin." And then think: routine, routine, routine. Sun protection should be second nature to both yourself and your child when enjoying time outdoors. Many children with ASD crave routine so start using sun protective clothing and sunscreen early on in life and part of a daily routine. Hopefully, your child will equate this with a necessary step towards outdoor fun. Preparing your child can also be helpful so they are not surprised. For example, walk your child through the steps involved in going to the pool, with sun protection being one of those tasks.
Any last pointers to share?
Be a sunscreen role model—apply yours in front of your child. Habits are easier to adopt if everyone in the household does them!

1 comment:

  1. My partner hates the feel of sunscreen so much that he doesn't like to touch me when I'm wearing it! We've found a few brands that feel better Reiman P20 is especially good because it lasts for up to 10 hours and is more ethical than some. We also like nivea protect and refresh.
    To cool down, I highly recommend cooling neck scarves. They contain crystals and after being soaked in water they stay cold for many hours.


Thanks for sharing!

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