Sensitivity to sun, previous damage due to sunburn, sun or sunscreen allergies, or general avoidance of excessive exposure to ultraviolet light and skin cancer are all reasons that many people wish to use clothing rather than frequent applications of sunscreen to avoid further sunburn damage. Fabric usually needs to be tightly woven or double thickness to block the harmful rays of the sun.
Children with special needs and their families who live and work in warm climates or who enjoy many outdoor activities are often challenged by reliance on sunscreen as their main sun block aid. Most children are especially uncomfortable and some become quite ill due to sunburn. Adult family members may assume that someone else has applied or reapplied the sunblock, a product with an insuffient UPF may have been applied, or it might have washed off sooner than expected.
Providing shade for children, and especially young babies, and having sun blocking clothing, are 'best practices' of good planning by families who seek to protect their children - especially those who have certain health conditions or are recovering from illness or surgery.
It's important to know which fabrics effectively block sunlight when making clothing for this purpose. Some families use a laundry additive that creates a sunblocking effect with washable clothing. Others search for clothing that is ready made and has a UHF score available. There are fabrics that are especially good if a child is spending time in the water.
We are so fortunate to live in a time when many options are available, and so much is known about the long term as well as immediate damage done by sun exposure. Older relatives and caregivers may be unaware of the danger of sun exposure to your child or sunburn risks for children in general.
Be aware that children can be allergic to ingredients in sunscreen lotions, laundry additives and certain fabrics, and some may have sensory sensitivities to texture and clothing that feels like a wrong fit. It may take time to find just the right fit for your son or daughter.
Browse at your local bookstore, public library, retail stores or online retailers for information and products like these:
Sun Blocking Clothing or Rit Laundry additive for washable clothes designed to block ultraviolet rays
Sun Sense and Summer Fun
" ...Help camp counselors and other attendants understand the significance of sun protection and the frequency of sun screen application.
... Sun glasses with darkened lenses but no UVA protection will dilate the pupil allowing more UV rays to reach the back of the eye. ..."
Shady Lady Products
Links to clothes and products to avoid burns and for cancer survivors
UV photography reveals our sun-damaged selves
A new study of hundreds of middle-schoolers uses ultraviolet-imaging technology to show that sun damage can happen early in life.