Sunburn in childhood hugely increases the risk of skin cancer in later life. With life-long damage being done in the early years, it’s imperative that parents take the right precautions to protect children against the sun’s harmful rays. Experts still don’t believe that parents are doing enough and that re-education is needed when it comes to sun protection.

A child’s skin is much thinner than an adult’s which makes it more susceptible to damage. Childs Farm’s consultant dermatologist Dr Jennifer Crawley explains that “skin cancers take a long time to occur and they occur because of an accumulation of UV damage over a number of years, making it fundamental to protect skin from an early age. Getting sunburn just once every two years can triple the risk of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.”

Use sunscreen all-year-round

People need to be applying sunscreen all-year-round — not just for holidays abroad and heatwaves, advises Dr Crawley. “I think we need to really make the point when we are talking about sun protection, we aren’t just talking about blistering heatwave sun; we are talking about UV light.” The sun’s rays can penetrate through the clouds, which is why it’s possible to burn even when the weather is overcast.

Apply sunscreen liberally

Make sure you’re applying enough sunscreen. “One of the main problems we find is that people don’t apply an adequate amount of suncream,” warns Dr Crawley. “We recommend at least two teaspoons for the head and neck area and two tablespoons for the body. But you can’t apply too much, so use it liberally.” While applying sunscreen twice a day is a good habit, “suncream really does need applying more than twice particularly on really hot days,” she adds.

Choose the right sunscreen for you

Always choose a sunscreen that will offer sufficient protection. Dr Crawley advises: “Whatever your skin type, look for one with a high SPF of 30+ and one that will protect the skin against both UVA and UVB rays. It’s also important to make sure the sun protection you use is suitable for eczema prone or sensitive skin if you suffer from those conditions.”

6 essential rules for keeping children safe in the sun

  1. Opt for a high factor SPF 30+ sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays
  2. Keep sunscreen topped up throughout the day, especially if you or your children have been swimming in the pool or sea
  3. Keep children out of the sun between 11 am and 3 pm on hot days. This is when the sun is at its strongest and can cause the most damage, especially to young and delicate skin
  4. Ensure your children wear sunglasses and a wide brim hat for added protection to their face and neck
  5. Always keep babies under the age of six months out of direct sunlight
  6. If your child has sensitive or eczema-prone skin, make sure you are using a product that has been clinically tested as suitable for this skin type

Finally, don’t forget to keep the little ones hydrated when they’re enjoying the sunshine. It’s very easy to become dehydrated with the heat and to forget to drink if you’re out of your usual routine. Give them water every 20 minutes.

The Childs Farm 50+ SPF sun care range can be used by the whole family. It’s suitable for sensitive skin and those prone to eczema.

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