AUSTIN (KXAN) — As summer approaches it is time again to worry about sun exposure. Kids up to the age of 10 are especially vulnerable, and the burns they get now catch up to them as adults. Your bare face, arms and legs aren’t all to worry about, ultraviolet rays get through your clothing and most clothing doesn’t protect you. Now a local couple, both doctors, has designed some shirts and pants for children they believe will keep out 98% of those damaging UV rays.
At Westlake Dermatology, Dr. Melinda Conroy sees a lot of damaged skin in adults and children. She says, “The more sun exposure you get your skin remembers everything, there’s an accumulative effect. If you get a blistering sunburn in childhood it more than doubles your chance of melanoma in adulthood.” Ordinary cotton provides a minimal protection of “5” on the UPF scale, which goes up to fifty. She has to hunt to find better protection for her two year old, “It can be hard to find. It’s out there but it’s in a lot of specialty stores and online. We do carry some in our office because it is difficult for patients to find but a product like that I am in support of.”
Enter Dr.’s Carly and Carlos Gomez-Meade. She’s a pediatrician and he’s a dermatologist with an oncology background. Worried about their two sons they developed Little Leaves Clothing, kids shirts and pants that offer a “50” UPF rating, thanks to the blended weave of cotton, spandex and bamboo fiber. Carly says, “Putting sunscreen on a two year old, or even a ten year old, can be difficult. You have to reapply it. This is one way, you put the shirt on, put the pants on, and they are good to go for as long as they are outside.”
Lab tests confirm their clothes provide 98% protection in the blistering sun, and they say it is cool, light and breathable. Carly adds, “Because we focused on play wear it is supposed to be clothes you wear to play in the park, play baseball or soccer. We want something they can play in.”
Right now the product is only available online, but parents are finding it. Maureen O’Shay, a mother of two daughters, says, “It’s soft, it’s comfortable and as a mom there is a lot to worry about. If I can just throw on a shirt on them it makes my life easier.” Her life may be easier but do the kids like it? Daughters Caroline and Abby nod, as Abby explains, “I thought it was cool because I don’t like my mom spraying me with sunscreen.”
UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and you and your kids want at least a “30” rating to do any good. If you’re interested to try these clothes out, they are available at www.littleleaves.com. Oh, if mom and dad like it for the kids, the Gomez-Meades are coming out with adult wear later this year.