Sun Safety and Children

Children need to be protected from the sun – children’s skin is more delicate and hence more prone to skin damage. That’s why they need specific products that have a high SPF, are easy to apply and are water-resistant.

Skincare specialists recommend applying sunscreen generously all over the body before sun exposure and reapplying frequently, especially after swimming. It’s best to stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm, and to keep toddlers under 3 yrs-old out of the sun.

Protection tactics

T-shirts, sundresses and other light summer clothes, generally provide only limited protection so don’t rely on clothing alone. Protect your child’s head with a sunhat.

Waterproof sunscreen is important even if you’re nowhere near the sea. Non-waterproof lotions can be washed off quickly by sweat.

Remember to use sun protection all over your child’s body – behind the ears, the underside of the nose, feet and the backs of legs are often missed.

Whatever the colour of your skin, you and your family should still use sunscreen. It’s a myth that darker skin protects against skin cancer.

Applying sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside enables it to ‘bond’ with the skin, and gives better protection than if you apply it when you reach the beach.

Keeping your kids safe this summer
When the sun comes out, there’s a great temptation for all the family to strip off, lie on the beach and cram a year’s worth of sun and swimming into two short weeks. Not only does this overexposure result in frazzled bodies and frayed tempers.-related dangers:

No-one wants to spoil the fun of a summer holiday, but sensible sun protection is vital if you don’t want your kids to suffer from painful sunburn. Safety in the sun will also guard against potentially cancer-causing UV radiation and premature skin ageing.

Make sure your children wear hats which protect their heads, faces and necks – legionnaire-style or wide-brimmed hats are ideal. In midday sun, children should also cover their torso with a loose, dense weave t-shirt, leaving only the lower arms, face and legs exposed. For younger kids, why not check out our range of Mini Mode sunsafe suits and hats?

Take cover
It’s true what they say about mad dogs and Englishmen. Even in northern latitudes, children should be in the shade during the midday sun – between 11am and 3pm. In Mediterranean countries this is sensibly the time when families have a siesta indoors.

If you’re out at the beach, invest in a shade tent or find a suitably sheltered spot under a tree or large umbrella. Use the Junior Play Shade (£29.99), for example, which provides 50 plus UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) and has sand pockets for beach use.

Even in the UK, the sun can easily burn. During the summer months make sure your child wears a minimum sun protection factor 15. Kids with fair or freckled skin, and babies over six months, will need SPF 25 or more. Babies under six months of age should never be exposed to the sun. Look for hypoallergenic and fragrance free brands, such as Soltan Baby Sun Cream SPF 25 (£5.89) or Soltan Baby Sun Lotion

Never leave your baby in the sun

Babies burn faster than children or adults.
Use an umbrella, beach tent, the shade of a tree.
Remember they can burn in the shade from reflected light.
Don’t put sunscreen on them, as their skin is extremely sensitive and may not be able to flush out chemicals.

Get into the hat habit

Nothing beats putting something between sun and skin.
Always put a broad-brimmed hat on children. Add a flap down the back.

Cover up with clothes
Loose-fitting clothing keeps them cool.
Put children in long sleeves.
Tightly woven fabrics and dark colours absorb more UV.
A wet, white T-shirt lets through nearly as much sun as no shirt.
At the beach, dress them in sun-protective swimsuits or (even better) wetsuits.

Put sunscreen on children, and keep putting it on

Apply sunscreen half an hour before they get outside.
Don’t wait till it’s getting hot. In the cool air of 10am the sun burns as fiercely as at 2pm.
Put more on after they’ve been swimming – whether or not it says it’s waterproof.
Apply at least every two hours – so if they’re out all day, apply it four times minimum.
Use a factor 15 or higher sunscreen, and a broad spectrum type.
Apply it generously. A rough guide is a teaspoon for a baby, a dessert spoon for a child.

Sunscreen isn’t enough
Don’t let sunscreen lull you into a sense of false security.
Don’t let them stay out all day even if they’ve got sunscreen on.

Put sunglasses on children

Use 100% UV-blocking sunglasses, with wrap-around protection.

Remember, most damage occurs during normal day-to-day activities
It’s not just the beach you need to worry about.
Cloudy days are dangerous if you take no precautions – a lot of UV still gets through cloud.
Watch out for cool winds or water – they can make you think burning isn’t happening.

Get kids into good habits

Plan trips outdoors that avoid 10am to 2pm peak intensity time.
Make sure there will be shade if you’re going out.
Have picnics in the shade. Play in the shade.
Enjoy the woods!
Make dressing in hats and long sleeves standard practice.
Give children regular drinks to keep them hydrated and cool. 

Remember to take extra care of children
Young skin is delicate and very easily damaged by the sun. All children, no matter whether they tan easily or not, should be protected from the sun.

Children (like adults) with fair or red hair, pale eyes or freckles are at most risk. Keep babies under six months out of direct sunlight, especially around midday.

Tips for protecting children in the sun

  1. Remember you can burn whereever it is hot: Take extra care at home as well as abroad.
  2. Know the shadow rule: If your shadow is longer than you are, then you are safe from the sun. When your shadow is shorter than you are tall, the sun can burn you.
  3. Use shade:Keep babies in complete shade: under trees, umbrellas, canopies or indoors.
  4. Cover them up: Dress children in cotton clothing that is baggy, close-weave and cool. Oversized T-shirts are good for covering most of their skin.
  5. Use dry clothing: Remember that wet clothing stretches and can lose up to half of its UV protection – put children in dry clothing after playing in water.
  6. Protect shoulders and necks: Don’t put children in vest tops or sundresses if they are spending a lot of time outdoors – shoulders and backs of necks get easily burned.
  7. Wear sunglasses: Buy good quality, wraparound sunglasses for children, as soon as they can wear them. Sunglasses don’t have to be expensive brands, but toy sunglasses can do more harm than good.
  8. Find hats they like: Encourage children to wear hats with brims, especially if they are not wearing sunglasses. The wider the brim, the more skin will be shaded from the sun. SunSmart children’s hats are now available to buy online.
  9. Use sunscreen wisely:  Apply factor 15+ sunscreen 15-30 minutes before children go outdoors. Then reapply generously once outside to be sure of good coverage. Don’t forget their shoulders, nose, ears, cheeks and tops of feet.
  10. Remember sunscreen washes off: Always use waterproof sunscreen (factor 15+) when children are swimming or playing outdoors with water. Reapply after towelling.
  11. Don’t forget school times: Remember play times and lunch breaks on summer school days too. Give children a hat to wear and, if they can’t apply sunscreen at school, cover their exposed skin with factor 15+ before they go.
  12. Set good habits for the future

Remember, children spend much more time outside than adults do. By putting these tips into practice you will protect your children now and reduce their risk of developing skin cancer in the future.

Teaching children safe sun habits while they are young sets a good pattern for later life.

Parents – take care with children
Just why is it so important for children and young people to take care in the sun? We know that children’s skin is naturally more delicate and prone to damage from the sun’s rays. Children also spend time outdoors in the strong midday sun during school lunchbreaks and over the summer holidays.

Children don’t get skin cancer, so why is it such a concern?

It’s true that skin cancer is rare in children. But many skin cancers take years to develop. Damage to the DNA of our skin cells when young, may develop into skin cancer 15-30 years on! The most serious type of skin cancer – melanoma – is the third most common cancer in 15 to 39 year olds.

Sunburn is particularly risky when we are young

The way we treat our skin in the first 21 years is crucial. If we spend this time in the sun, constantly trying to get a tan, or worse still getting sunburn, then we significantly increase our risk of developing skin cancer. A tan is a response to genetic damage caused by UV rays. Even a light tan is a sign that your skin has been exposed to too much sun.

Experts agree that reducing the amount of sun we are exposed to as children and teenagers, has a far greater impact on melanoma risk than a reduction as adults.

What can be done?

Look at these practical tips for keeping children safe. Then lead by example and make sure you are SunSmart yourself!

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