Keeping your skin well-protected as an adult is essential to prevent premature ageing but also to slash the risk of developing a deadly skin cancer, such as malignant melanoma. However, for children it’s even more important to protect their delicate skin, both to avoid painful sunburn but also for the long-term effects.
It only takes one episode of a blistering sunburn for your child to double their risk of suffering from melanoma later in life. The good news is that there are many ways to keep your skin well-protected from the damaging rays while still enjoying the fresh air. Here’s a look at the basics of sun safety which applies to both children and adults alike.
Apply Sunscreen Even on Cloudy Days
Overcast days often catch people out as the strength of the sun may be disguised by the clouds in the sky. If you can’t feel the sun beating down on your shoulders, it’s easy to assume there’s no risk of sunburn.
However, this absolutely isn’t the case and young skin, in particular, could end up with very nasty sunburn as there’s no sunscreen applied. Research has shown that around 80% of the rays will still get through the cloud and will bounce off surfaces such as sand, snow, water and even concrete. No matter what the weather is, if you’re going outside apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
One of the reasons for this is not just skin burning but the cumulative damage that can occur. When skin is continuously exposed to UV rays, damage occurs, even if that’s not immediately obvious.
Consider Different Types
Everyone has their favourite type of sunscreen whether it’s the silky oil, the luxurious cream or the convenient spray. There’s no real consensus which type is better, providing you get proper coverage wherever you apply it.
For children and babies, you might want to consider a stick sunscreen for their face. This prevents the cream from running into their eyes and causing discomfort, and it’s easy to apply. Make sure you look out for a formula that contains zinc oxide or titanium oxide as these are physical blockers rather than chemical blockers.
Wait 30 Minutes After Applying your Sunscreen
You’ll often see people slathering on the sunscreen as soon as they hit the beach or the pool, and it’s great that they’re taking precautions. However, if you want to gain the maximum protection it’s better to apply your sunscreen around 30 minutes before you step outside.
By waiting a little longer you’ll give the SPF time to bind with your skin, making sure you’re properly protected.
Make Sure You Apply Enough Sunscreen
You’ve covered every member of the family in sunscreen, waited 30 minutes and slapped on a hat, so surely there’s no better protection, right? While that all sounds great, many of us are guilty of not using enough sunscreen to be fully protected from the sun.
As a rough guide, an adult needs at least one ounce of sunscreen; that’s the equivalent of approximately seven teaspoons, or one shot glass. The amount of sunscreen a child needs depends on their size but it’s always better to apply too much than too little.
Sunscreen won’t help if you’re already burnt
The SPF number on the sunscreen bottle refers to the length of time you can stay in the sun without getting burnt. For example, if without sunscreen you could stay in the sun for 10 minutes before your skin begins to redden, if you apply factor 10 you will be able to stay in the sun for 100 minutes – ie/10 minutes x factor 10.
However, if your skin is already on the point of getting sore – hopefully not! – sunscreen won’t help, even a very high factor. The only option is to cover up and get out of the sun, and allow your skin to recover.
Children don’t always notice when they’re getting sunburnt, especially if they’re spending a lot of time in the water. Therefore, make sure you check their skin regularly for signs that they’re overexposed.
Enjoy the Outdoors While Staying Safe
Whether you’re at the beach, out walking or just at the park, the power of the sun’s rays can do serious harm to the skin. Always use a sunscreen that’s at least 30SPF for adults and 50SPF for children while following the above steps and both you and your child will be able to show off beautiful, soft, healthy skin.