We all know how much fun our kids can have playing around at the beach, in the pool or even at home in the garden on a hot summer’s day. However, there are inherent risks associated with spending all that time in the sun; these include dehydration and sunburn. When it comes to your kid’s delicate skin, which is thinner and more sensitive than yours, you have to be even more careful.
One of the best ways you can carry out good sun safety for kids, is to limit their exposure to the sun when it’s at its strongest, normally between 11am and 3pm. If your little ones are out and about during this time, make sure they are covered up and have plenty of sunscreen on; they should also stay in the shade as much as possible and always wear a hat.
Ensure that clothes will screen out harmful UV rays by placing your hand inside the garments and making sure you can’t see it through them. Your child’s eyes are also vulnerable to damage, so you should outfit them with some stylish sunglasses preferably ones that offer 100% UV protection. Some medications can also increase your baby’s sensitivity to the sun so check with your doctor or pharmacist if you suspect this might be the case.
Babies under the age of 6 months should be kept out of the sun wherever possible, as sunscreen should not be applied to their delicate skin. When choosing one, make sure it is at least SPF 15 and SPF 30+ is recommended. The sunscreen should also offer broad-spectrum protection, which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. It should be applied about 30 minutes before your child is exposed to the sun and don’t forget about applying to your little one’s lips, hands, ears, feet, shoulders, and behind the neck. You should also reapply it every 2-3 hours and use a water resistant sunscreen if your baby is going to be splashing around during the day.
After a bad sunburn
Even after all precautions are made, most kids will still get bad sunburn on occasion, if they do here are a few things you can do to help relieve the pain:
Get your child to have a cool bath to ease the pain.
Apply an after-sun gel that contains Aloe Vera to minimise long-term damage.
Keep your child out of the sun until the burn is healed.
Don’t forget to apply these safety principles when your child is at school, day-care or out with friends. Being a good role model by wearing sunscreen and limiting your time outside, not only reduces your risk of sun damage, but also teaches your kids good sun sense. Kids who have bad sunburn are no fun to be around, and as a parent you may feel guilt at having lost track of time, so remember to always think of sun safety for kids.
The Cancer Association of South Africa has a guide that will give more helpful information, access it here: Be SunSmart.