Being super-vigilant about the sun has become second nature to today’s parents, unlike previous generations, who were largely ignorant of the damage it could do to young, delicate skin. In fact, studies have shown that up to 80 per cent of total lifetime sun exposure occurs during childhood, so the need to keep your child protected remains of paramount importance. But, despite the continuing drive to educate parents in proper sun safety, many of us are still failing to fully protect our children.
First and foremost, make sure that you choose a suitably high factor sunscreen that offers your child all the protection she needs. Dermatologists recommend nothing less than a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30, and check the product offers protection against both UVA radiation (which is linked to ageing and an increased risk of skin cancer) and UVB radiation (which causes burning and skin cancer). A common oversight is not reapplying sun lotion frequently enough. To be fully effective, you need to first apply sunscreen to your child approximately 30 minutes before going in the sun, and then every two hours, as well as every time your child gets wet. Remember to do lips, tops of the ears, hands and tops and bottoms of the feet, too, as these areas often get overlooked. As for the amount of sunscreen, a good rule of thumb is to fill the palm of your child’s hand, which should be sufficient to cover exposed areas, a wide-brimmed sun hat is also essential in the heat of the day.
And remember, the best sun protection you can give your child is to simply keep her in the shade and enjoy a leisurely siesta between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest.
This article previously appeared in Junior magazine as a print article