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Staying Safe in the Sun: Tips from a Medic and a Mama

Kids playing at the beach
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Sun Safety Tips For The Whole Family

Winter is here (finally!) and that means days spent outside at the beach or park. It also means a lot of sun exposure and though we’re all glad for the extra vitamin D we have to be vigilant to protect our children against the harmful rays of the sun. Remember that serious sunburns during childhood can significantly increase your risk for skin cancer later in life.

Read more: 11 Signs Winter Has Arrived in Dubai

1. Barrier protection is best

Long sleeved shirts and long pants are safest to protect your child’s skin. Even better when they are marked as having an ultraviolet protection factor. Remember to put on a hat that covers ears, scalp and neck. If your child insists on wearing a cap, remember to put sunscreen on ears and neck. Sunglasses are also of utmost importance to prevent cataracts.

Staying safe in the Sun: find shade at the beach

2. Look for a shady spot

Always seek shade under a tree or take an umbrella with, especially if going outside during midday hours. It’s even better to plan outside activities in the morning or late afternoon.

Read more: Sun-Free Tanning – 3 Ways to Get a Bronze Glow

3. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!

Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen (at least SPF30, preferably SPF50) 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. Apply generously and remember feet, ears, nose and lips. Use teaspoon rule: 1 teaspoon of sunscreen to face and neck, 2 teaspoons to front and back torso, 1 teaspoon to each arm and 2 teaspoons to each leg. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours or after every swim or sporty activity (even if the product is labelled as water-resistant).

Kid applying sunscreen

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding sunscreen in infants younger than six months. However if direct sun exposure cannot be avoided, a minimal amount of sunscreen (preferably SPF50) can be applied to small areas (such as face or hands)

Ingredients vary from product to product and allergic reactions can occur. If you are worried or your child had a reaction to one brand, discuss product choice with your paediatrician or dermatologist. There is a safe sun screen out there for your child, don’t despair.

Remove your children from the sun the moment their skin turns pink. This means a burn is imminent. And remember there is no such thing as a safe tan – any change in skin colour means damage has already occurred.

If your child sustained a sunburn, don’t panic. Give your child a cool bath and apply a light water based moisturising lotion, aloe vera gel or calamine lotion to affected area to relieve itching and prevent peeling. Paracetamol can also be given to relieve pain.

If the burn causes blisters, fever, chills or any other systemic symptoms contact your doctor immediately.

Prevention is definitely key. You might think these measures are too strict, but it is important to note that research has shown that one serious sunburn during childhood doubles your chances for melanoma (deadly type of skin cancer) later in life. Melanoma is now the fastest growing cancer in young adults, a statistic that is very worrying. And even though melanoma is most common in Caucasians it can affect any race, sex or skin type.

Keep your children safe, mamas and enjoy the winter!

Sources and CDC website

Featured image via Pinterest, Image #2 via StockSnap, Image #3 via Pinterest

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