In all seasons, it is important to protect your child’s skin while out in the sun. Learn how to keep your child’s skin safe while they are outdoors.

Why is it Important to Protect My Child's Skin From the Sun?

Protecting your child’s skin from the sun is important for 2 reasons:

  • It helps prevent skin cancer.
  • It helps prevent early signs of aging, like wrinkles and brown spots.

How Can I Protect My Child's Skin?


  • Stay out of the sun as much as you can when it is strongest. The sun is strongest from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. every day, even in winter.
  • If you are outside, bring what you need to cover yourself and your child. This can be sunglasses, a beach umbrella, hats or long clothing.
  • Wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher every day. A higher SPF will protect your skin more. SPF means Sun Protection Factor.


  • Use sunscreen that is broad spectrum. This means it protects from UV-A and UV-B rays. UV-A and UV-B are types of light rays in sunlight that can hurt your child's skin. Sunscreens with zinc and titanium are gentle on the skin and are safe for your child to use.
  • Put sunscreen on your child often. Apply it 15-30 minutes before going outside. Apply every 2 hours, after swimming, after sweating and after drying off with a towel at the beach or pool.
  • Use sunscreen on your child’s face every day, even in the winter.
  • Rub in spray sunscreen. This helps make sure the sunscreen covers as much skin as possible. It can also help prevent streaks or missed patches of skin.
  • Wear clothing made from tightly-woven fabric. You can tell how tightly woven clothing is by holding it up to the light. Tightly-woven clothing does not let much light come through. You can also buy special clothing with UV-protection.

Clothing, hats and sunglasses

  • Wear hats with a wide brim. Brims that go all the way around can protect your child more than baseball caps or hats without brims.
  • When doing things like boating, going to the beach or skiing, wear clothing that covers your child’s skin. Wearing sunglasses can also help protect your child’s eyes.
  • Set a good example for your children. When you wear sunscreen and clothing that covers your skin, your children will learn to do the same.

Healthy habits for your family

  • Teach your child that her natural skin color is beautiful. Whether you have a son or daughter, skin is beautiful as it is. There is no need to tan.

Did You Know...?

There is no such thing as a safe tan or base tan that protects your skin from the sun. When your child’s skin tans or burns in the sun, it means his skin is damaged. Childhood sunburns increase the risk of melanoma, a type of skin cancer.

Your child should never use tanning beds or tanning booths. If your child wants to look tan, try spray tans or sunless tanning lotions. These are safe choices.

Did You Know...?

Everyone is at risk of developing skin cancer or skin damage, even if you have darker skin.

Rev. 6/2017. Mass General for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.