10 tips to keep kids safe in the sun

BE­FORE YOU JET OFF ON HOL­I­DAY, SOAK UP THESE SUN PRO­TEC­TION TIPS FROM A DER­MA­TOL­O­GIST, SAYS LISA SALMON

Llanelli Star - - FAMILY HEALTH -

WHAT­EVER the Bri­tish weather, many fam­i­lies are look­ing for­ward to jet­ting off abroad to catch some rays, so good sun pro­tec­tion is a must, par­tic­u­larly for chil­dren.

Yet new re­search from the pre-school chan­nel Dis­ney Ju­nior UK has re­vealed nearly half of par­ents (49%) are un­sure how of­ten to ap­ply sun­screen to their chil­dren, and 46% don’t ap­ply enough.

The Bri­tish As­so­ci­a­tion of Der­ma­tol­o­gists (BAD), has teamed up with Dis­ney Ju­nior UK to help pro­tect chil­dren from the sun. Dis­ney Ju­nior UK is giv­ing away 10,000 packs of sun stick­ers, fea­tur­ing char­ac­ters from its child vam­pire show Vam­pi­rina, to par­ents in se­lected su­per­mar­kets and air­ports through­out the sum­mer.

The stick­ers can be put on chil­dren’s skin, and change colour when it’s time to reap­ply sun­screen.

In ad­di­tion, der­ma­tol­o­gist Dr Sweta Rai from BAD ap­pears on the chan­nel’s Par­ent­ing Hacks pod­cast, of­fer­ing ad­vice on sun safety.

Dr Rai stresses: “Chil­dren’s skin can burn eas­ily, and this will pre­dis­pose them to de­vel­op­ing skin can­cer later. One sin­gle episode of sun­burn un­der the age of 20 can in­crease the risk of skin can­cer in later life, so it’s re­ally im­por­tant to get kids into good habits from a young age.”

She of­fers these sun safety tips:

1. AVOID THE MID­DAY SUN

THE sun is strong­est and its UV rays the most in­tense be­tween 11am and 3pm, so the best way to pro­tect chil­dren’s skin is to seek shade at this peak time.

2. COVER KIDS UP

Make ap­ply­ing sun screen fun

DRESS­ING chil­dren in loose-fit­ting cloth­ing, a sun hat and sun­glasses is one of the best ways to keep their skin safe. Many rash vests or guards pro­vide pro­tec­tion against UV.

The level of UV pro­tec­tion these gar­ments pro­vide is in­di­cated us­ing a sys­tem called Unit Pro­tec­tion Fac­tor (UPF), and it takes into ac­count the type, weave and colour of the fab­ric. Look for a UPF of 40 or above on cloth­ing la­bels.

3. SUN­SCREEN EX­PIRES

LIKE any skin creams, sun­screens do ex­pire. Their ef­fi­cacy lasts a cer­tain time, so check the ex­piry date when you find it in the back of the cup­board.

4. SUN­SCREEN ON ALL EX­POSED SKIN

IF avoid­ing di­rect sun isn’t pos­si­ble, cover all ex­posed ar­eas of your child’s skin with sun­screen con­tain­ing SPF 30 or above, which also has high UVA pro­tec­tion.

“It’s im­por­tant to cover all ex­posed ar­eas, par­tic­u­larly the face, trunk and arms, and for those with sparse or no hair the scalp is im­por­tant,” says Dr Rai.

“And don’t for­get the back, ears and back of the neck. Peo­ple of­ten get burned on their backs as it’s an area where sun­screen ap­pli­ca­tion is quite dif­fi­cult.”

5. CHECK EAS­ILY MISSED AR­EAS

WITH squirmy chil­dren, it’s easy to miss patches when ap­ply­ing sun­screen. Don’t for­get to check easy-to-miss ar­eas such as the ears, tops of feet and hands, scalp and back of neck.

Dr Rai says: “In clin­i­cal prac­tice, I most com­monly see sun dam­age on the scalp, eyes, ears, be­hind the ears and the backs of necks. These are all com­mon sites for skin can­cer. It’s im­por­tant not to for­get lips ei­ther, and there are UV pro­tec­tive and wa­ter-re­sis­tant lip balms avail­able. Al­though you can use sun­screen on lips, lip balms can be more prac­ti­cal.”

6. REAP­PLY FRE­QUENTLY

AP­PLY­ING a sec­ond coat of sun­screen about 15 min­utes af­ter the first helps cover any patches missed ini­tially. Make sure you reap­ply sun­screen ev­ery two hours, and straight af­ter chil­dren have been in wa­ter.

“There’s no such thing as water­proof sun­screen,” warns Dr Rai, “so it’s re­ally im­por­tant to reap­ply more reg­u­larly if you’re swim­ming, and par­tic­u­larly if you’re towel dry­ing, as this will rub away the sun­screen. Sun­screen doesn’t last all day, and you can miss patches of skin the first time you ap­ply it, so reap­pli­ca­tion is key in pro­tect­ing your­self and kids from the sun’s harm­ful rays.”

7. MAKE IT FUN

TO make sun­screen ap­pli­ca­tion more fun for young chil­dren, try draw­ing a pic­ture or writ­ing a word as you squeeze the sun­screen onto their skin, maybe one let­ter on each limb, torso etc. Then ask them to guess what the pic­ture or word is, and tell them they can help rub it out (i.e. spread it onto their skin).

“Ap­ply­ing sun­screen should be built into fam­ily rou­tines when kids are grow­ing up, to help cre­ate habits that last a life­time,” says Dr Rai.

8. YOU CAN GET BURNED IN THE SHADE

THE Dis­ney re­search found 57% of par­ents don’t ap­ply sun­screen to their chil­dren when it’s cloudy, but chil­dren can burn in the shade.

Dr Rai warns: “Even if you’re sit­ting in the shade, de­pend­ing on the thick­ness of cover, UV light can still pen­e­trate through and it’s pos­si­ble to burn. Chil­dren’s skin is thin­ner with less weath­er­ing than that of an adult, so it is more likely to get sun­burned in the shade.”

9. LEAD BY EX­AM­PLE

CHIL­DREN learn by ex­am­ple, so make sure they see you putting on sun­screen.

10. IT’S NOT JUST BURN­ING THAT’S DAN­GER­OUS

BURN­ING and tan­ning are both harm­ful to the skin. Dr Rai ex­plains: “I see a lot of skin can­cers as a re­sult of chronic low-grade sun ex­po­sure which can come from sun tan­ning. Even if you’re not be­ing burned, sun­tan is a sign of skin dam­age, which can lead to skin can­cer, so it’s im­por­tant to pro­tect your­self.”

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