‘Sunscreen!’ and other tips to protect children from the sun, and a surprise way their sun-exposure is doubled! Imagine having two suns beating down on them…. you need to read how to avoid this.
OK, yes we know. This may be optimistic depending on where you live, but right here it’s almost 40 C and kids are suffering!

Sun, Sunshine!

So how do we protect children from the sun?

Several people recently have asked for more information about how to protect children from the sun, so lets start with the easy one
Avoid sun exposure during the sun’s peak hours (10am – 4 pm). The easiest way to protect children from the sun is to keep out of it. Often easier said than done, but don’t forget this basic tip!

When outside, use sunscreen: At least SPF 15

Sunscreen is the best way to protect children from the sun if they’re out in it. Don’t forget yourself and the other adults in your group too!

  1. If they don’t like having it rubbed on, try a spray form. There are also ‘wipe on’ methods. Experiment a little to see what works best.
  2. Kids sunscreen is fine, but the adult ones work just as well. Don’t blow all your $$$ just because it says ‘children’ on the label.
  3. Get one with Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide as the main barrier. These form a physical barrier on the skin, are less likely to cause allergies and start working immediately (chemical screens can take up to 30 min to work)
  4. UVA? UVB? Doesn’t matter if you use tip #3! The physical barrier creams defend against all types of UV – no more worrying if yours is ‘right’.
  5. Pay special attention to ears, noses, back of neck and shoulders. Also consider any areas you remember getting burned last summer and pay attention to these too. Kids who don’t often wear open-toed shoes may need sunscreen for their feet if they’re suddenly in sandals. Joint creases (elbows & knees) can lose the cream more easily as you’re moving a lot.

Apply sunscreen often (every 2 hrs), especially if kids are in & out of water (including hose-pipes, sprinklers, water fights, etc.). If you’re sunscreen says it’s good for 8 hrs, that’s great, but…. It’s also usually only true if you kid keeps perfectly still for those 8 hrs.
Keep sunscreen with you, in your kit bag, stroller, car, etc. In a pinch, your ‘diaper rash’ cream will do if it contains Zinc Oxide – check the label.
Remember they do ‘go off’ – check the expiry date on the label.
Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
Try to avoid sugary drinks for all kinds of reasons from empty calories to dental health. Water remains the best drink for everyone. Give them plenty and encourage breaks from playing to have a drink – otherwise they become busy with their activities and simply forget to drink.

Consider protective clothing as appropriate

  • Sunglasses or shades with UV protection,
  • Sun-hats, wide-brimmed hats, caps, etc.
  • Long sleeved shirts & trousers made of light-weight, light colour materials

Protect children from the sun twice as well at the beach!

Be aware that water or snow can reflect 85% of the UV back at you – your sun exposure is almost doubled when on water, or hiking up the mountains. Be especially cautious that your sun-screen application is good: under chins? Under noses? On lips, etc. Also remember that the water will wash off all your best efforts very quickly – and if there was any sunscreen left, the towel will have got rid of it. Reapply!

Routine checks

Check your skin & your kids every 3 months for sun damage. Talk with your doctor if you find anything unusual. This would include ‘freckles’ that have grown larger. Any brown marks that are bleeding and any suspicious lumps & bumps. Here’s a quick & easy guideline from www.patient.co.uk

  • Asymmetry – the shape of a melanoma is often uneven and asymmetrical, unlike a mole which is usually round and even.
  • Border – the border or edges of a melanoma are often ragged, notched or blurred. A mole has a smooth well-defined edge.
  • Colour – the colour (pigmentation) of a melanoma is often not uniform. So there may be 2-3 shades of brown or black. A mole usually has one uniform colour.
  • Diameter – the size of a melanoma is usually larger than a normal mole, and it continues to grow.

Other Heat Related Conditions

There are several, the first is Sunstroke (or heat stroke)… other posts will follow.

Share your tips!

Do you have anything to share with others? Tips for getting sunscreen onto reluctant kids? How do you deal with the day’s heat? Add your wisdom to the comment box so all our kids can benefit. Thanks.