Sun Care Safety for Kids

Date: 17 May 2015

Sun Care Safety Tips for Kids

Summer is finally here and with the weather heating up, it’s time to start paying serious attention to sun care for your children. Did you know that you can get sunburnt in just 10 minutes, even in the UK? It’s for this reason that it is especially important to make sure that your children are fully protected whenever they’re out in the sun. So here are our top tips for sun care safety this summer.

What’s the difference between UVA and UVB?

You’re likely to have heard the terms UVA and UVB bandied around, but do you know the difference? Both are forms of ultraviolet rays, which are produced by the sun and are harmful to skin in various ways. UVA rays can penetrate skin cells more deeply and cause skin ageing. UVB rays on the other hand, are responsible for causing sun burn and like UVA rays, they can also cause long lasting damage. It’s for this reason that you should always look for a sunscreen which protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

SPF – what’s that all about?

SPF or sun protection factor is another term you’ll need to be aware of to fully protect your little one from sun burn. The higher the number, the greater the protection – but that’s not all; the number also gives you an estimation of how long the protection will last. An SPF15 sunscreen will provide your child with 15 times as much protection as it usually takes to get burnt. For example, if your child usually burns after 10 minutes in the sun without any sun protection, using SPF15 will keep them from harm for 15 times as long as 10 minutes – that’s 150 minutes of sun protection. Don’t be fooled into buying a lower SPF and thinking you can just reapply it more often though – the higher the SPF rating, the more UV protection the sunscreen will give, with SPF50+ blocking up to 98% of UV rays.

Should I choose a lotion, stick or spray?

You’ll notice that sunscreen is available in multiple forms, making it difficult to know which one is the best for your child. While sprays are useful for toddlers on the move, it doesn’t really matter which type of sunscreen you go for, as long as you reapply it often enough. If your child will be going in the swimming pool or sweating a lot, look out for water-resistant sunscreens – these will provide longer-lasting protection.

How much sunscreen should I use?

The Skin Cancer Foundation advises that adults use two tablespoons of sunscreen but there’s no recommended amount for children – in fact, the more the better. Be careful to ensure that all exposed body parts are covered in sunscreen, particularly those places that are easily overlooked, such as ears, feet, knees, elbows and hands. You should apply sunscreen at least half an hour before your child goes outside and then reapply every two hours or as soon as they come out of water.

Is it safe to use sunscreen on my baby?

Baby skin is extremely sensitive so it is wise to avoid using sunscreen containing chemicals that their skin can absorb. Recent research by the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that until your baby is around six months of age, avoid sunscreens altogether and use clothing and shade as the main form of protection.

What else can I use to protect my little one from the sun?

Of course, while sunscreen is important, there are other fantastic means of protection too.

Our recommendations include:
- Staying out of the sun during the hottest part of the day (between 10am and 4pm)
- Dressing your child in loose clothing that covers any exposed areas
- Choosing a wide brimmed hat for your little one which covers their face, ears and neck

From what age should my child wear sunglasses?

It’s not just skin that is sensitive to the sun – eyes are too, so it’s vital that they are protected! Your little one should wear sunglasses from the age of six months. You’ll find plenty of brightly coloured designs for children – look for pairs with CE mark quality and UV400 protection. Glasses which are shatter-resistant are also useful too, for when they’re running around in the sun!
With so many options available, we’ve included a short list below of our top 6 recommended sunglasses brands for children: 

  • Baby Banz
  • Beaba
  • Julbo Pop – These are available widely available across the UK
  • Squids – These are also widely available across the UK
  • ZooBugs
  • Boots
  • My child has sun burn – what should I do?

    With the best of intentions, it is still easy for children to get sunburnt. If your little one is younger than one year of age or suffering from severe sunburn, you should call a paediatrician or GP. They will be able to offer you specialist advice on how to treat the sun burn. If your child is over the age of one but is suffering from blisters, high temperature or lethargy then it is also wise to call a paediatrician. In all other cases, drinking plenty of fluids, taking pain relief and regular cool baths can help to reduce pain and swelling. Always allow sun burn to heal before your child goes back out in the sun.

    Follow these tips this summer to ensure that your child stays protected from the sun. Don’t forget, UV rays can penetrate through clouds too, so keep your child’s sunscreen topped up even on a cloudy day for maximum protection.

    Further information is available from the following websites:

    www.nhs.uk/Livewell/travelhealth/Pages/SunsafetyQA.aspx
    www.nhs.uk/Pages/HomePage.aspx
    www.sunsmart.org.uk/