Your baby’s skin is 15 times thinner than yours! Protect your little one from UV rays this summer

Sunburn at a young age increases the chances of melanoma (skin cancer) in later life by 80%. You need to be sure you’re properly protecting your little one’s sensitive skin.

What does this mean for babies?

Babies under 6 months shouldn’t be exposed to any UV rays and should always remain shaded. These young ones shouldn’t be wearing sun cream either, as their skin is too sensitive and prone to reaction.

What about older ones?

Babies over six months and children can spend limited time in the sun – as long as you’ve taken precautions to reduce the risk of sun damage and burning.

Here are our top tips.

Clothing:

Choose tight-weaved clothing that covers the baby’s whole body. Look for garments with a UPF of 50 which will block 98% of UV radiation.

 

Choose wide-brimmed sun hats (not caps) which will cover your baby’s neck and ears too.

They should also wear sun glasses to protect their eyes. Sunglasses should meet the British Standard (BSEN 1836:2005) and carry the CE mark – check the label. This is because the UV rays can cause eye damage to a baby’s young eyes.

 

Sun cream:

 

In the UK the general advice is that children under 6 months should not use sun cream.

This is because they might lick it off and ingest chemicals, have an allergic reaction or react in another unpleasant manner due to their sensitive and thin skin.

 

If your baby has reached over six months of age, they should be wearing sun cream from around April to October (use your judgement to decide – they may need it as early as March, weather dependent).

 

Babies and young children are more prone to rashes than adults.

 

  1. Choose a sun cream designedfor babies.
  2. Test the cream first.

 

Choose wisely:

 

Choose a hypoallergenic sun cream specifically designed for babies.

You should choose a high factor (SPF 50). For children the NHS recommend at least a factor 15. It should have at least a four-star UVA and UVB protection rating. There are specific sun creams created for babies which you can buy.

 

Check the expiry date and discard when out of date.

 

Some brands offer tinted versions of sun cream so that you can see where you have put the product.

 

Do a patch test:

 

We would always recommend trying sunscreen on a small area of your baby’s skin (doing a patch test) to make sure your baby can tolerate the product. Apply the small area before you need to rely on the sunscreen to protect them from the sun and check the area for signs of redness or allergy for the next few hours. If there is no reaction, you can then apply this to all exposed areas of their body. When trying a new brand, always patch test in this way too.

 

How to apply it:

 

Use enough!

 

Many people do not use enough sun cream – so make sure that you use at least a tablespoon of sun cream if covering the legs and arms of a baby.

 

Apply sunscreen liberally to any area of your baby’s skin that isn’t covered up by clothes or a hat. Remember to include his hands and feet, and the back of his neck and ears.

 

Put sunscreen on your baby 15 minutes before they are exposed to any sun. Pat the cream on rather than rubbing it.

 

Apply sunscreen to any area that is not protected by clothing – be especially careful with shoulders and the neck.

 

Reapplication:

 

Reapply the sunscreen at least every couple of hours and after they have played in water, even if the sunscreen claims to be waterproof. Some water-resistant products may only protect your baby’s skin for up to 40 minutes of water play, while others may protect for up to 80 minutes.

 

Practical steps to remember;

  1. Babies under six months old should be regularly given cooled boiled water, and older ones regular water.
  2. Creating a cool sleeping environment with good ventilation is important.
  3. Cloudy days are still risky – sun protection remains essential on such days.
  4. IF you are near a body of water, the sun’s potency is increased so take extra care around lakes, oceans and rivers.
  5. Re-apply sun cream after swimming.

 

 

If your baby has sunburn:

 

Firstly, don’t panic.

 

Remove them from the sunlight immediately and take them indoors, preferably into a cool or air-conditioned environment.

 

Shower the affected area for 10 minutes under tepid water, then apply neat aloe vera. Seek immediate medical advice if a baby or child has become sunburnt, particularly if their skin has blistered.

 

Give them regular drinks of cool water to ensure they remain hydrated. If they show signs of heat exhaustion – hot, flushed, sweaty, unsettled, vomiting or diarrhoea – always get medical advice immediately.

 

Enjoy the sunshine!

 

With these tips in mind, make sure you’re fully prepared with gear and knowledge and enjoy the sunny weather.

 

Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life

 

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It is strongly advised that you attend a fully regulated Practical or Online First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit https://firstaidforlife.org.uk or call 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses.

 

First Aid for Life is a multi-award-winning, fully regulated first aid training provider. Our trainers are highly experienced medical, health and emergency services professionals who will tailor the training to your needs. Courses for groups or individuals at our venue or yours.

First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.

 

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