How To Protect Your Kids From The Sun
How can you ensure your kids are protected from harmful UV rays?
It’s finally getting warmer. While this is great, for many of us and our young ones it means more freckles and coming home from school with a burnt forehead.
Too much exposure to UV can cause skin cancer, which we would like to avoid at all costs. But what actually protects you and your kids?
1. Seek some shade
Babies and young children should be in the shade away from direct sunlight from April – September in Ireland, or be covered up with loose fitting clothes that block UV rays while keeping them cool. Hats and caps can protect the face and sun cream can be used on any areas that might get exposed.
UV rays are strongest between 11am and 3pm so even older kids should stay in the shade around this time. Good shade can give up to 75% protection from UV rays. Sun cream is a good backup too for hands and faces.
UV rays can come directly from the sun and indirectly scattered by clouds. They can also reflect from snow, water and concrete. Some UV rays can pass through windows so if your kids are sitting beside a window all day they still need to be protected by clothes and suncream.
2. Slip on some clothes
Clothes can protect you from the sun, especially linen, cotton and hemp as they block a higher amount of UV rays. Dark clothes block more UV rays than light coloured clothes and UPF clothes block UV rays from passing through.
Choose clothes with long sleeves and high collars to protect as much skin as possible.
3. Slap on a hat
Hats are a great way to protect against the sun. Make sure the hat your child is wearing covers their neck, head and ears. Broad brimmed bucket hats are actually in fashion with some teens at the minute, and protect better than a baseball cap.
4. Wear sunglasses
Eyes can also be damaged by UV rays and damage can start from an early age. It can result in mild irritation, difficulty with bright lights, excessive blinking and sunburn of the part of the cornea. Long-term exposure can lead to cataracts and cancer.
Kids should wear sunglasses with UV protection that fit well and aren’t a hazard. If your kid already wears glasses make sure they block UV rays, most do!
5. Use sun cream
It can be difficult to know what sun creams to look for or what SPF to get. Like, what even is SPF?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and protects against UV-B rays. UV-B is responsible for sunburn and cause several types of skin cancer.
Its recommended in Ireland that children wear Factor 50 SPF or higher as it provides almost full protection from UV-B (96%-98%). This should be reapplied every 2 hours to dry skin, or after being in the water or playing sport (no matter what the bottle claims)
You also need to protect your kids against UV-A as it penetrates the skin deeper than UV-B can cause premature wrinkling, age spots and can heighten the risk for some skin cancers.
Look for a ‘broad spectrum’ sun cream as this protects from UV-A and UV-B. Or look for the circular symbols on the bottle.
6. Know the UV index
The best way to know when to cover up and break out the sun cream is by knowing the UV index. When it is 3 or more you are at greater risk of skin damage that can lead to skin cancer. You can check it here.
Written by Róise McGagh, Intern at Family Friendly HQ; follow her on Twitter @roisemcgagh