The summer season is in full swing, and a new trend in skin protection is stirring the curiosity of consumers nationwide. Companies like Coolibar, Solumbra, and Lands' End are hoping their sun block clothing as an alternative to traditional sun-screening methods.
Since 2001, Australia-based Coolibar is gearing their product toward children with their colorful, lightweight swimwear, a possible alternative to conventional sun block creams. Children often resist the repeated applications most sunscreens require. Sun block clothes are made with titanium dioxide fibers, which the manufacturers say gives them an ultraviolet protection factor of at least 50. But clothing alone will not protect against the sun's harmful rays.
"The best way to protect your children from the sun is to do three things: have them wear protective clothing, avoid the mid-day sun, and regularly use sunscreen. All three of those work best together but this clothing alone works pretty well," says Dr. Darrel Rigel, with NYU Medical Center.
But this kind of protection doesn't come cheap. Parents can expect to pay for a child's swimsuit starting at $30, a price that could scare off some consumers.
"There's certainly an expense to buying these clothing in terms of having it in use for children, but in the long run, it may pay big dividends in terms of skin cancer protection later in life," says Dr. Rigel.
Starting early is critical, since approximately 80 percent of lifetime sun exposure happens before the age of 18. The best advice? Doctors say go ahead and enjoy the outdoors, especially early and late in the day, and check out all the options out there to protect kids from the sun.