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Cayman Parent | Articles | Expert Advice | Sun Safety for Kids

Sun Safety for Kids

Protecting Skin from the Sun

SUNCARE DO’S AND DON’TS
In a tropical climate like Cayman, where the sun is strong and a good deal of time is spent outdoors, practising sun safety is essential for all ages and ethnicities.

Whilst skin melanoma is rare in children (accounting for just 3% of paediatric cancers), protecting their skin whilst young is important for their lifelong health. Suffering blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence could increase their chances of developing melanoma in the future.

Here are some important guidelines to bear in mind:

DO:

  • Apply sunscreen every morning before school and keep a bottle of sunscreen in their school bag.
  • Choose SPF30 or higher.
  • Consider using a reef-friendly sunscreen before spending time on the beach.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours, before an outdoor activity and after swimming or towelling off, even if the sunscreen is ‘water resistant’.
  • Throw away any sunscreen that you’ve had open for longer than 12 months or that has ‘split’ or changed in texture.
  • Keep infants under six months out of the sun as much as possible and keep children out of the sun during the hottest parts of the day when possible (11am to 3pm).
  • Cover up using a sun top, sunglasses and a hat. Choose clothes where you can’t see your hand through the fabric.
  • Be generous in the amount of sunscreen you use; full coverage is important.
  • Apply in advance – it takes approximately 15 minutes for sunscreen to sink into your skin.

DON’T :

  • Buy spray-on sunscreens as they may harm children’s lungs.
  • Leave sunscreens in the sun.
  • Use a sunscreen that includes bug repellents – the sunscreen’s ability to screen out UV can be decreased by the repellent, whilst the toxicity of the repellent is increased.
  • Miss less obvious areas like ears, feet, mouth, neck and back of the knees.
  • Forget to apply your own sunscreen – it’s not just about the kids!


SKIN CANCER WATCH LIST


1in 5 Americans develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Over the past three years, more people have been diagnosed with skin cancer than all other types of cancer combined. Here are the main warning signs – or ABCDE’s – to look out for:

A: Asymmetry – if you draw a line through a mole, the two halves should match.

B: Border – see a doctor if the border is uneven, notched or scalloped.

C: Colour – moles should be the same colour throughout; look out for moles that include different shades of brown or black, or sometimes even patched of pink, red, white or blue.

D: Diameter – be vigilant of moles that are greater in length than 6mm (though smaller moles may also be malignant).

E: Evolving – moles that change shape, colour, size or elevation, or that bleed or itch, need to be looked at by a professional.


Protecting Eyes from the Sun

Although a recent survey showed that 82% of parents made their kids wear sunscreen, only 32% of their children wore sunglasses*. However, UV light can be equally damaging to eyes and can lead to cataracts and macular degeneration when older. Both of these conditions can cause impaired vision or blindness.
(* VSP survey of 2,000 US adults)

Infants and children lack the pigment in their eyes that help filter UV light, so making your kids wear sunglasses is crucial. This is especially important if playing on the beach, on a boat or going somewhere snowy; the reflective surfaces of sand, water and snow can almost double your UV exposure. As with skin, sun is most damaging to eyes between 10am and 4pm.

Here are six things to bear in mind when buying sunglasses for kids:

1) Glasses should offer 99-100% UV protection.
2) Select polycarbonate lenses that can take more wear and tear.
3) Wrap-around glasses offer the best protection.
4) Grey-coloured lenses are best as they absorb all colours equally so kids can see the world in natural colours.
5) Choose darker coloured lenses – you shouldn’t be able to see your child’s eyes through the lenses.
6) Expensive isn’t always best; good lenses – with full UV protection – can be bought on a budget.

 

Sometimes knowing what to look for is only half the battle. It can at times feel impossible to encourage stubborn little ones to wear sunglasses. Here are a few tips which might help:

TOP TIP: Surprisingly, cloud cover doesn’t significantly affect UV rays. Your risk of UV exposure can be quite high even on hazy or overcast days. This is because UV is invisible radiation, not visible light, and can penetrate clouds. Make sure you always wear sunscreen and sunglasses, even on cloudy days.


For our top tips on dental care for your kids – click here!

 
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