The long beautiful days of summer are back and it’s time for our minds to drift to thoughts of long days basking in the sun and ideally the odd beach along the way.
Although today we are all so much more aware of the dangers of too much sun exposure it is still so easy to get caught out, especially at the start of the good weather.
We also can easily forget that during those slightly cooler and less sunny days the sun can be just as powerful and it’s still necessary to protect our skin from harmful UV rays and even more critical for our kids.
Kids do though need to play outside in the fresh air and you can make it safe by taking a few precautions.
So, what are the rules of sensible sun exposure:
Children, especially younger ones should ideally stay in the shade between 10 am and 4 pm and children under the age of 6 months should be kept out of the sun completely as only mineral-based creams are safe at this young age and as these are less effective than chemical preparations no exposure is preferable
Wearing sufficient sunscreen is essential as studies have repeatedly shown that sunburn during childhood poses a higher risk of developing the deadliest type of skin cancer, melanoma
Your sunscreen for your child must have a minimum SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 although 50 is ideal and you should ensure that the suncream is labelled as broad-spectrum as this protects against both UVA and UVB. Although UVB rays are the ones that cause the skin to burn recent studies have proven that UVA rays are as damaging as UVB
A good quality chemical sunscreen will usually offer a higher degree of protection than a sunscreen that is composed of only mineral active ingredients. Look for a suncream that has the ingredients Avobenzone, Ecamsule (Mexoryl SX) and/or Zinc Oxide
Apply sunscreen generously and thoroughly to ensure that all exposed skin is covered. Re-apply at least every 2 hours
Use a water-resistant sunscreen if your child will be swimming and reapply more frequently after being in the water
As well as suncream children should always wear a wide brimmed or peaked hat to protect their head and sunglasses, if possible, to protect their eyes
Many swimsuits now are made from with material containing a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) or use longer shorts and sleeved t-shirts to protect larger areas of skin from sun exposure, especially when swimming
What to do if your child suffers from sunburn
If your child does suffer from sunburn you should seek medical advice if the skin blisters, they are in severe pain, have a fever or are under one year of age.
For less serious cases Ibuprofen can be given and cool baths or compresses will help to lessen any pain, swelling or itching in most instances and Aloe Vera can be soothing when applied directly to burned areas.