Protection from Sun Damage
Sun damage can be prevented, but if your kids love frolicking outdoors in the summer months, here's a few things you need to know to help combat damaging sun exposure.
Teaching the little ones to be sun safe and cultivating good habits while they're little will help ensure they adhere to safe practices while having fun in the sun.
The sun's UV rays react with melanin, a chemical found in our skin. Melanin absorbs UV rays before they can do serious skin damage. A sunburn develops when the amount of UV exposure is greater than what can be protected against by the skin's melanin. Parents should also be aware that unprotected sun exposure is even more dangerous for kids with:
- moles on their skin
- very fair skin and hair
- a family history of skin cancer
General practitioner and father of four Dr Jonathan Levy advises, "Always wear sunscreen, even on a cloudy day. The risks [of heat stroke] just aren't worth taking. And you have to be extra careful with children's skin. It takes very little time for them to burn.Â
Parents should get into the habit of taking sunscreen everywhere just in case. Keeping a bottle in your handbag and one in the car means you always have some handy. Invest in some mini-tubes with clips that can be filled with sunscreen so you can attach them to school bags, the dog's leash and the kids' bikes as well.
Choose the highest SPF number you can find, and don't go lower than 30Â°CÂ says Dr Levy. Select a waterproof sunscreen that is sweat and dribble resistant, but don't forget to reapply every two hours, and immediately after the kids get out of the water if they've gone swimming.
Dr Levy also advises that sunscreen should be applied at least 20 minutes before going outside for maximum protection, as it gives the skin a good amount of time to absorb the lotion.
Keep the family hydrated
The normal body temperature for children is the same as adults - (usually around 98.6Â°F/37Â°C), so if your little one develops a fever, it could be a symptom of heat exhaution due to overexposure in the sun.
Keeping your little ones well hydrated will help to avoid all sorts of summertime nasties. Heat exhaustion can be the result of dehydration, and for children, even the slightest headache can be unbearable, which doesn't bode well for mums either.
Remind the kids to drink water often while playing. For children who detest drinking just water, consider investing in funky new drink bottles or glasses to make hydration fun. Juices and cordials will also help, while options like buying a soda maker could keep the kids happily hydrated with sugar-free fizzy drinks.
Clothes do offer some protection from the sun, so if you can, choose loose, light-coloured, longsleeved clothes made of breathable fabrics like cotton. Layering can increase UV protection, and rashies are a good choice if you're spending the day with the family at the beach.
Hats keep little heads cool and prevent burning, so the bigger and floppier, the better.
Little ones can overheat very quickly and without warning, so taking regular breaks from the sun is recommended, and cool down in air conditioning wherever possible. Keep an umbrella handy for temporary shade as well.
The summer should be a carefree time for fun and frolics, and fun in the sun can be enjoyed to the fullest provided we teach our kids how to stay safe in the heat. Cultivate the right habits and you can look forward to many happy and healthy summers.
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