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The Importance of Sunscreen in Winter Days for Kids

Posted by Children Story Time admin, 9 minutes read

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Wearing sunscreen in the winter is incredibly important for children, sometimes even more critical than in the summer! Studies show that UV rays are more intense in the winter since children are sometimes outside for more extended periods, and the snow reflects and intensifies the sunlight! 

It’s easy for the importance of sunscreen to slip your mind in the cooler months, and the connection is not always clear. The rest of this article will explain all the reasons you should make sure your kids are wearing sunscreen in the winter. 


Why is sunscreen important for kids?

Many people think sunscreen is only essential for sweltering days when your kids are spending a lot of time playing out in the sun. That’s not the case! 


In recent years, SPF daily has become more and more popular for adults. This is because your skin is constantly exposed to the sun’s rays, and over time these UV rays can cause a lot of damage, including discoloration, wrinkles, and even skin cancer Even when you are in your car, your skin is still exposed!

Sunscreen is important because it protects our skin from the damage UV rays can do- even on cloudy days. It helps reduce the risk of sunburn and skin cancer, prevents skin discoloration, and prevents signs of aging. 

While we integrate sunscreen in daily SPF products to combat signs of aging and prevent skin cancer, children need daily protections for those reasons and more.

Kids love to spend their time outside, but there are countless studies that point out the damage the sun’s UV rays does to their younger, more sensitive skin. They are more likely to spend extended periods of time outside, and without proper protection children may suffer from:


  • Painful burns and irritation
  • Increased acne
  • Long-term issues such as cancer or discoloration

Sunscreen lets your kids get out of the house without risking any of these issues, keeping them safer in their recreational endeavors. According to Semer Jaber, MD, of Washington Square Dermatology, there are two types of UV rays that we must be aware of: UVA and UVB.



UVA rays can penetrate glass and clouds, making it impossible to stay away from them for long. These rays pass easily through the earth’s ozone layer, and they make up the majority of the sun your children are exposed to. They also penetrate deeper within our skin, Dr. Jaber says. Because of this, there will be more damage to your skin if you don’t take care of it, resulting in a higher risk of skin cancer. Melanoma, which is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, is linked specifically to exposure to intense UVA rays. Since UVA rays penetrate clouds and are intense all year long, your children’s skin will still be damaged during the winter months.



UVB rays are the type of rays that vary depending on the season and are much more intense on sunny days. This will damage the outer layers of the skin, which results in sunburns and contributes to skin cancer. 

Sunburn is often seen as a rite of passage, but it shows plenty of potential to develop into an issue greater than a little irritation. Melanoma, which we noted as the most dangerous form of skin cancer, also shows an association with severe UVB sunburns that occur before age 20. Beyond this, UVB rays also take the blame for the development of cataracts and affecting the immune system. In the cold winter months when immunity is already fragile, protecting against these rays can keep your kids happy and healthy.


Why it’s essential to wear sunscreen in the winter

A huge misconception is that UV rays are only a threat in the warm summer months. In reality, it’s equally important to wear sunscreen on a cloudy day, and in the winter too! 

The winter months bring snow, and snow brings children out and about, making snow forts and having snowball fights. Children can be outside doing this for hours, and during that time, they’ll be subjected to even harsher UV rays than in the summer. Children do not seem to have the same reservations that adults do about cold weather, and you’ll likely lose the battle to keep them inside. By learning as much as you can about keeping them safe from harmful UV rays in the winter, you can fulfill your parental duty without keeping them shut all season.


The Importance of Sunscreen on Winter Days for Kids

Children’s skin is young and doesn’t have years of damage behind it already, so they should learn to protect themselves young. This will make sure that their skin stays happy and healthy in the long run. Showing your kids the importance of year-round skin care sets the standard for protecting their skin through life. Adopting daily SPF habits early on can prevent or limit issues such as:

  • Sunburn
  • Skin cancer
  • Immunity issues
  • Aging
  • Acne


Read below to understand why these concerns still stand strong, if not stronger, in winter days.


You can still get a sunburn!

The Winter months are full of snow and winter sports. While our bodies might want to spend the entire season inside binging Netflix, your children are not likely to show the same restraint. Their growing bodies still need to burn as much energy as possible, and you probably don’t want them inside bouncing off your walls for months on end. Because of this, many will be outside in the sun for hours at a time without sunscreen!


Many people will point out that they don’t usually see people with sunburn during winter. Still, according to Hamilton Health Sciences, many people mistake sunburn for windburn since the only part of the body exposed is the face. Since kids are usually bundled up in the winter, they only need to wear sunscreen on exposed places, like their faces!


Decrease risk of skin cancer

Over time, the amount of damage UV rays cause will add up, resulting in skin cancer. It’s imperative to remember that even though you don’t think you can get sunburns in the winter, you’re still being exposed to harmful UV rays that will damage deep layers of your skin, resulting in skin cancer later down the line.

It is best to start protecting against the cancer-causing effects as early as possible, starting by keeping your children out of the sun as much as possible until 6 months old. From that point on you need to rely on protective clothing and sunscreen to keep them safe. Using sunscreen is not a guarantee your children will not deal with skin cancer later on in life, but it is one of the strongest tools you have to prevent it from occurring. Using sunscreen throughout the year is essential for complete protection.


Ice and Snow Reflect UV Rays

Wearing sunscreen is also essential in the winter because the ice and snow reflects as much as 85 percent of the sun’s UV rays, making them more intense and dangerous. While the sun is out of sight and out of mind, those harmful UV rays are hard at work.


If your child is active with winter sports, they will be outside in the snow for hours at a time, especially on sunny days; this can be even worse for their skin than them outside playing in the summer!  These sunny days seem like perfect winter weather to get outside and be active, but they are often the harshest on your children’s skin.


Children’s Medication and UV Rays

Something else we fail to weigh properly is the photosensitivity side effects that many medications have. During the winter, your children are more likely to fall ill with common colds, viruses, and other issues. The medication their doctor prescribes, especially antibiotics, is likely to increase their sensitivity to sunlight.

You should also consider how acne medication, even over-the-counter creams, can make children’s skin more sensitive to sunlight. This is more of a concern for older children and teenagers, but without proper protection sun exposure can lead to irritation on the face and arms. Sunscreen use during this time is even more essential to prevent the issues from compounding.


The Ozone Layer is Thinner

An essential part of our atmosphere that absorbs the sun’s radiation, the ozone layer becomes thinner during winter months, giving your children less protection from the sun.  As a result, your children’s skin will absorb more UV rays during this time, making it incredibly important to wear sunscreen at all times.

If you consider how harmful the sun can be during Summer months when the ozone layer is thicker, it is easier to understand why Winter sun exposure is so concerning.


What Can You Do To Protect Your Kids?

The list of potential problems goes on and on, and there is only so much that identifying these issues can do. You need actionable steps to take to protect your kids from these harmful effects and major concerns.

Thankfully, there are many things that you can do to protect your kids from the sun during the winter, including:

  • Using sunscreen every day
  • Keeping your kids in the shade
  • Limiting their sun exposure
  • Dressing them in protective clothing
  • Investing in a quality pair of sunglasses

Developing these simple habits will combat the issues caused by winter sun exposure.


Use sunscreen every day

It’s super important to teach your kids to use sunscreen every day. Even when they don’t think that their skin will be damaged by the sun, there will be damage long-term! Make sure that they have applied sunscreen on their face before they go out to play.  The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that children wear a broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher in any areas exposed to the elements, even in winter. If you’re spending the day out in the snow, look for a water-resistant formula for moisture protection.


Keep Your Kids in the Shade

Try to keep your kids in the shade when you can, where the sun isn’t reflecting off the snow and ice as intensely. Your children should still wear sunscreen, but it will help!

Keep in mind that these shaded areas should have a physical barrier between your child and the sun; clouds do not count.


Dress Your Kids Well

Make sure that your child is completely bundled up! If the only part of them that is showing is their face, that is the only part that will need sunscreen.  If the climate is not cold enough for bundling, make sure you apply sunscreen to any skin left exposed.


Invest in a good pair of sunglasses

Your kid’s skin isn’t the only thing the sun will damage. It can also hurt their eyes! UVB rays can burn your child’s cornea and lead to cataracts over time.  Make sure that you invest in a great pair of sunglasses that will protect their eyes while they are outside.


Final Thoughts

The importance of sunscreen on winter days for kids is something that we should talk about more since their skin is so young and can be damaged so quickly.  Unfortunately, many people don’t think sunscreen is necessary during this time. You should take steps to ensure that your child’s skin is protected at all times since it will lead to a smaller chance of skin cancer and discoloration long-term!


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