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10 ways To Keep Your Kids Safe In the Sun

Summer may be on the wane in the Northern Hemisphere but there are still likely to be plenty of sunny days left before autumn digs its heels in. Despite most of us being fully away of the dangers of excess sun exposure I think we are less likely to be fastidious about applying our sun screen at this time of the year simply because the sun feels less intense than during the height of summer. However, the danger is still there because the slightly cooler temperatures tempt us into staying in full sun longer and the sun is far lower in the sky which means it’s still necessary to protect our skin from harmful UV rays and even more critical for our children.

So even though the days are becoming shorter we should still continue to persuade our children to stay in the shade as much as possible, between 10 am and 4 pm, on sunny days and, of course, make sure they are wearing sufficient sun screen because studies have shown that sunburn during childhood poses a higher risk of developing the deadliest type of skin cancer, melanoma.

So how can we protect our children?

  1. Ensure that your child wears a wide brimmed or peaked hat to protect their head and sunglasses, whenever possible, to protect their eyes.
  2. Longer shorts and sleeved t-shirts can help protect larger areas of skin from exposure. Many swimsuits are now made with material containing a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor). Check labels on new purchases to make sure.
  3. Choose a sunscreen for your child that has an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 or higher. SPF 30 will block up to 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks 98%.
  4. Make sure the protection is labelled as “broad spectrum” to protect against both UVA and UVB:
  • Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays make the skin tan and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays cause the skin to burn. However, a tan is still an indicator that your child’s skin is suffering damage and recent studies have proven that UVA rays are as damaging as UVB contrary to popular belief.
  1. Use water-resistant sunscreens if your child will be swimming and reapply more frequently after water exposure.
  2. Persuade your child to wear a t-shirt when swimming if possible.
  3. Apply sunscreen generously and thoroughly to ensure that all exposed skin is covered. Re-apply it regularly (every 2 hours at least).
  4. Look for the ingredients Avobenzone, Ecamsule (Mexoryl SX) and/or Zinc Oxide when choosing a sunscreen – A good quality chemical sunscreen will usually offer a higher degree of protection than a sunscreen that is composed of only mineral active ingredients.
  5. Children under the age of 6 months should be kept out of the sun completely. Only mineral based creams are safe at this young age and these are less effective than chemical preparations so no exposure is preferable.
  6. If your child does suffer from sunburn seek medical advice if the skin blisters, they are in severe pain, have a fever or are under one year of age.
  • Ibuprofen 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.

Children need to play outside in order to reap the benefits of fresh air and essential Vitamin D, therefore taking a few precautions is just a matter of common sense. Rather than worrying about which particular brand of sunscreen to buy for your child, simply make sure that it is a high SPF, broad spectrum, water proof and applied thoroughly and frequently and you will be doing your absolute best to protect them whilst allowing them to enjoy sunshine in the UK and abroad .

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