First of all why is Sun Protection important?
Sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer. There's no safe or healthy way to get a tan. A tan doesn't protect your skin from the sun's harmful effects.
Aim to strike a balance between protecting yourself from the sun and getting enough vitamin D from sunlight.
Spend time in the shade when the sun is strongest. In the UK, this is between 11am and 3pm from March to October.
Make sure you:
· Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm
· Make sure you never burn
· Cover up with suitable clothing and sunglasses
· Take extra care with children
· Use the proper factor of sunscreen
It is beneficial to put rash-guards & sun-suits on kids to give them extra protection.
What factor sunscreen (SPF) should I use?
Don't rely on sunscreen alone to protect yourself from the sun. Wear suitable clothing and spend time in the shade when the sun's at its hottest.
When buying sunscreen, the label should have:
· A sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to protect against UVB
· At least four-star UVA protection
UVA and UVB rays
UV rays are what cause the damage and are the ones you need to protect your skin from, with both types being linked to skin cancer. Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are responsible for skin reddening and sunburn. It’s also the main culprit for skin cancer but also causes tanning and premature ageing. UVB rays vary in strength depending on location, the time of day and the time of year.
Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays penetrate deeper into your skin and are responsible for tanning. They also cause premature ageing such as wrinkles. UVA rays are normally fairly consistent all year round and at any time of the day.
When buying sunscreen you want to look out for a broad spectrum version, which protects you against both types of UV rays.
What are the SPF and star rating?
· The sun protection factor, or SPF, is a measure of the amount of ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) protection.
· SPFs are rated on a scale of 2-50+ based on the level of protection they offer, with 50+ offering the strongest form of UVB protection.
· The star rating measures the amount of ultraviolet A radiation (UVA) protection. You should see a star rating of up to five stars on UK sunscreens. The higher the star rating, the better.
· The letters "UVA" inside a circle is a European marking. This means the UVA protection is at least one third of the SPF value and meets EU recommendations.
· Sunscreens that offer both UVA and UVB protection are sometimes called broad spectrum.
How good is your sunscreen?
· Sunscreens are rated for their level of UVA protection. When you see “UVA” inside a circle, it’s confirming the UVA protection you’ve bought is at least one third of the SPF value and therefore meets EU recommendations.
· Some products may display a star rating instead, which is also a measure of the amount of protection you receive from UVA radiation. The rating is from one to five stars, where more stars mean more protection. This system requires a higher minimum level of protection than the EU recommendations.
Not necessarily the more expensive sunscreen is the better.
· Don't use sunscreens with PABA, which can cause skin allergies.
· For sensitive skin, look for products with the active ingredient titanium dioxide.
· Teens or preteens who want to use a self-tanner sunscreen should get one that also has UV protection (many offer little or none).
Babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of the sun. When going outside, dress your baby in lightweight clothes that cover arms and legs — and don't forget a hat with a brim. If you can't avoid the sun, you can use a small amount of sunscreen on your baby's exposed skin, like the hands and face.
How, When, and Where to Use Sunscreen
For sunscreen to do its job, it must be used correctly.
Be sure to:
· Apply sunscreen whenever your kids will be in the sun. For best results, apply sunscreen about 15 to 30 minutes before kids go outside.
· Don't forget about ears, hands, feet, shoulders, and behind the neck. Lift up bathing suit straps and apply sunscreen underneath them (in case the straps shift as a child moves). Protect lips with an SPF 30 lip balm.
· Apply sunscreen generously — dermatologists recommend using 1 ounce (enough to fill a shot glass or plastic medicine cup) to cover the exposed areas of the body.
· Reapply sunscreen often, about every 2 hours. Reapply after a child has been sweating or swimming.
· Apply a water-resistant sunscreen if kids will be around water or swimming. Water reflects and intensifies the sun's rays, so kids need protection that lasts. Water-resistant sunscreens may last up to 80 minutes in the water, and some are also sweat-resistant. But regardless of the water-resistant label, be sure to reapply sunscreen when kids come out of the water.
· Don't worry about making a bottle of sunscreen last. Stock up, and throw out any sunscreen that is past its expiration date or that you have had for 3 years or longer.
· And again - Reapply, reapply, reapply: Reapply after your child gets out of the water. Reapply if your child sweats a lot. Reapply every two hours on top of that. Don’t just put on sunscreen in the morning and think you’re set all day — you aren’t!
Stay Safe & Keep your Little One Safe Sunburn & Heatstroke are dangerous! In or next blog post more to come on how to recognise them and what to do.