From: Tina Woodward – Childcare manager

Tip:  Sun care and your child

As the sun is supposed to be making an appearance this summer, the team at First Steps wanted to just pass on some advice and information on sun care for your child.

We always ask that parents provide a sun hat and cream in the summer months, but we thought we’d also share some further tips and information to make sure we all are safe in the sun.

With the scary fact that just one blistering sunburn in childhood can double your little one’s lifetime risk of melanoma, being prepared on sunny days is key.

Young, sensitive skin is especially vulnerable to damaging rays, so here are some simple information and stress-free tips to make enjoying the sun easy.

What’s the difference between UVA and UVB?

Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays make the skin tan; ultraviolet B (UVB) rays cause the skin to burn. UVB used to get all of the blame for causing skin cancer, but new research shows UVA is equally damaging.

What does SPF stand for? Is a higher number more effective?

An SPF, or sun protection factor, indicates a sunscreen’s effectiveness at preventing sunburn. If your child’s skin reddens in 10 minutes without sunscreen, SPF 15 multiplies that time (10 minutes) by 15, meaning she’d be protected from sunburn for approximately 150 minutes or 2 1/2 hours. Of course, this depends on an adequate application of sunscreen and is based on SPF calculations with artificial instead of natural sunlight. The NHS recommends using sunscreens with at least an SPF of 15, which blocks 93 percent of UVB rays. Higher SPF provides even greater protection, but only to a certain point: SPF 30 blocks 97 percent of UVB and SPF 50+ (the maximum SPF you’ll find on sunscreen labels due to new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules) blocks 98 percent.

Sunglasses – they need to be safe.

We know your child may want the Peppa Pig sunglasses in the shops – but just make sure they are protective enough! Make sure the sunglasses meet the British Standard (BSEN 1836:2005) and carry the CE mark – this is normally easily found by checking the label. The skin around the eyes is vulnerable to UV damage too, so children should wear sunglasses starting from six months. Look for child-size sunglasses that offer at least 99 percent UVA and UVB protection, cover as much skin as possible (wraparound styles are great), and are impact- or shatter-resistant.

Baby safety

We would also advise that you keep babies under the age of six months out of direct sunlight, especially around midday. When it comes to creams – your baby’s skin is sensitive and can easily absorb too many chemicals, so avoid sunscreens before the baby is six months of age, except those with zinc oxide as the only active ingredient and use on small areas of the body. Use clothing, plus shade as the primary method of protection.

How much sunscreen should I use on my child? How often should I reapply it?

The Skin Cancer Foundation (skincancer.org) recommends that adults use at least an ounce (that’s a shot glass) of sunscreen, but there’s no set amount for growing children. The important thing is to cover all exposed areas (especially easily overlooked places like ears, tops of feet, backs of knees, and hands) 30 minutes before your child heads outside so her skin has time to absorb it. Reapply at least every two hours, more frequently if they’re swimming, playing in the water, or sweating.

Allergies to sun lotions

Rates of eczema and allergies amongst children continue to rise, so picking a sun care brand can be tricky!  Many of today’s sun lotions contain quite a few chemicals including synthetic UV filters, parabens, petrochemicals, urea, PEGs, DEA, TEA, irritating emulsifiers, synthetic colours and perfume. If your child is sensitive to sun lotion, avoid products that contain these ingredients and choose organic and natural sun cream for babies instead.

Remember the Slip, Slop, Slap rule

Slip on a Shirt, Slop on some sun cream, Slap on a Hat. All three of these actions are designed to reduce exposure to sunlight and therefore minimise the risks involved.

Please do ask the team at First Steps for any further help or advice.