National Sun Awareness Week (14th-20th May) is the perfect time to remind ourselves about sun protection, which is especially important when it comes to children’s sensitive skin. Research has shown that just one incident of serious sunburn in childhood may double the risk of skin cancer later in life. It’s extremely important to teach your children from a young age about sun awareness and protection.
Children under 6 months of age should be kept in shade at all times, and those over 6 months should have minimal sun exposure. As we all know, it’s impossible to keep active children in the shade at all times, so here are our recommendations for protecting your child’s skin in the sun.
SPF (sun protection factor)
To ensure adequate sun protection you should always use a minimum of factor 30 on children, up to factor 50 if you prefer. It’s very important to check that the brand you use offers both UVA and UVB protection. Don’t be tempted to use old cream left over from last year’s holiday as they do expire after a certain period of time. Make sure you apply enough cream and don’t miss any tricky spots, like the top of ears or feet. Do follow guidelines about how often it needs to be applied as just 10 minutes without protection is enough to cause sun damage.
Ideally children should be kept in shade as much as possible, meaning you have to worry less about sun care and any areas of skin you may have missed with the sunscreen. Take a large umbrella or parasol with you if you’re heading to the beach or park, or a pop-up tent which children love to play in. Be aware that the sun’s rays are at their strongest between 10am and 4pm – ideally keep children out of the sun at these times, or at least during the midday peak. Remember that even if it’s not very hot, or is overcast, strong rays can still be present.
It can be hard to keep little ones protected in the warm weather as you don’t want them to overheat. Dressing them in light, airy fabrics that cover as much skin as possible is the best solution. The less skin you need to worry about the better. A wide-brimmed hat keeping the head cool and the neck and face shaded is a must-have. Don’t forget to protect the eyes as well as the skin, as sun exposure can have serious effects on eye health. Look for sunglasses that provide 100% UV protection.
Sun protection in the water
If your children are water babies, be extra careful with re-application of sunscreen. Whilst a lot of products are water resistant, they are not completely waterproof and will need to be re-applied more often. Not only this, but water can act as a reflector and bounce rays back to your child’s face/skin. Make sure they’re wearing a hat in the water. You can purchase UV protective swimwear, which is a great idea for keeping them fully protected whilst swimming.
At Toad Hall, health and safety at nursery is of the utmost importance to us and at the heart of our policies and procedures. To find out more about our childcare approach click here.