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Summer, Sun and SPF – Tips for Protecting your Family from the Sun

Throughout the warmer months, there is nothing more enjoyable than spending time outdoors with your family. However, with this increased exposure to the sun, there is one important issue parents shouldn’t overlook – sun protection.


As a child’s skin is more sensitive to damage than an adult, it is essential that they are protected from harmful rays. Research has shown that sunburn in childhood can increase the risk of skin cancer in later life and with the fact that unprotected skin can get damaged in as little as 15 minutes, Vhi doctor, Dr. Ui May Tan has some helpful tips to ensure that you keep your family sun safe.


Pick a high SPF

With an abundance of sunscreens available, it can be an overwhelming task to pick the right SPF. Dr. May recommends “using an SPF of 30 or higher with UVA and UVB protection”.  For those with pale skin, high risk of cancer or any other conditions that make you sensitive to the sun, Dr. May says that a higher factor is the best choice.


Apply Sunscreen Correctly

When it comes to sunscreen, the application is key. Dr. May has some simple rules to follow to ensure your children are properly protected:

“I recommend applying sunscreen to dry skin 20-30 minutes before they go outside to the areas that are not covered by clothes and a hat. Also, remember to reapply to dry skin every two hours and after they come out of the pool or sea.”

As for choosing the formula of your sunscreen, Dr. May suggests finding one that works best for your family, whether it’s cream, lotion or spray. She notes that “simple lotions are best for normal skin, water resistant emulsion is advisable for swimming and water sports.”

Whatever type of sunscreen you choose, remember to do a patch test – apply the cream on the back of your child’s hand and see if their skin reacts – to ensure that the sunscreen is suitable for their skin. If it does irritate, simply try another brand.


Dress for the sun

Equally as important as sunscreen is dressing  your children for the sun. T-shirts with collars and a pair of long shorts are what Dr. May recommends, but she also remarks that a hat and sunglasses should be top of the list of sun protectors too:

“Children should wear a hat with a wide brim that covers their face, neck and ears and wraparound sunglasses with UV protection so it’s worth looking for hats and sunglasses that they like!”


Seek Shade

As for sun exposure, Dr. May urges parents to be clever about the times their children venture outdoors. She explains that “UVA rays are strongest at midday meaning it’s best to plan day trips and visits to the pool or beach either early in the morning or late afternoon and between 11am and 3pm, plan activities that are safely in the shade.”

Cloudy weather can still damage

It’s not just on sunny days that skin can get damaged, UV rays can still be harmful to the skin when the weather is cloudy according to Dr. May. So remember to stay sun safe and apply these tips on overcast days too.