The recent case of a badly sunburnt baby whose parents had kept it on Brighton beach all day in inappropriate clothing just goes to show how dangerous the sun can be. But we all want to enjoy the good weather and children in particular love to be outside when the sun shines. So how do we keep them safe?
Sunshine and clothing
People of any age, with any skin colour, can develop skin cancers but children are five times more likely to suffer sunburn and it’s sunburn that is often linked to development of melanoma skin cancer in later life. The areas where melanoma is most often seen are the face, head and shoulders: areas that can easily be protected by hats and short or long-sleeved T-shirts.
Prevention is better than cure
Try to keep children out of direct sun between eleven and three – let them sit in the shade or even, although it feels wrong, indoors watching cartoons on TV!
A good UV screening T-shirt is thick enough so that when you put your hand inside, you can’t see your skin through the fabric. Anything thinner than that doesn’t offer adequate protection. Clothing choices for children should work with a good waterproof sunscreen to offer maximum safeguard.
Hats help most
In Australia they’ve run a national campaign to encourage parents to put hats on their children. It’s claimed that a child wearing a baseball cap is 78% less likely to suffer sunstroke.
Babies belong in the shade
The latest government advice is that babies under 6 months should be kept completely out of the sun, and should not have sunscreen applied to their skin. This means that your baby should be indoors, under a parasol or – if you have to expose them to the sun – choose baby clothing that covers the entire body such as a long sleeved T-shirt and leggings with a wide-brimmed hat.