Out with the kids this summer? Here’s how to keep them safe in the sun
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It’s essential that we take care of our skin, and children’s skin is much more susceptible to sun damage than adults, says Dr Liz Oyelakin.
Summer is coming, and along with this joyful time of year comes an increasingly packed social diary. You’re now free from the hibernation of the long winter months (which seem to last longer every year) and you can finally allow the kids to shed the layers and leave the house without a coat… Hurray!
They are ecstatic enough, no need for sugar on this sunny day. Off you go to your friend’s garden BBQ, the local swimming pool or the park for a run around with the little ones. Whatever you’re doing with these lovely long days, be sure to be safe whilst enjoying it.
The sun is a wonderful thing. It can make the most miserable of situations slightly more hopeful and encourage warm smiles from ear to ear for no other reason! Almost everything looks better with the sun shining down on it, including our skin.
Now skin is a fascinating thing; it’s actually the largest organ of our bodies and has several functions. Not only is it important in maintaining the equilibrium of the body’s essential fluids by preventing too much water being lost, it also regulates our body temperature by producing sweat to cool us down when necessary, and by keeping a store of fat cells, it also insulates us.
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It detects multiple forms of sensation and protects us from harmful bugs and chemicals including radiation from the sun which could lead to sun damage and skin disease and it doesn’t stop there.
So you see, the skin has a number of very important jobs to do, and this means it is essential that we take care of our skin, especially during the early years of life because children’s skin is much more susceptible to sun damage than adults’.
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Here’s a few simple tips to staying safe in the sun. Wrap your kids up! No, not in cotton wool, stay cool. When it’s 30 degrees outside and your tots are running away from you at the speed of light, sticking a large brimmed hat or baggy t-shirt over them may prove to be more protective and comfortable than they realise.
Avoid being outside for too long when the sun is at its strongest. In the UK, the summer sun peaks around 11-2pm.
This doesn’t mean seek a deep dark cave to hide in, but finding a shaded area to step into around this time will provide a much needed spot of relief on a very sunny day.
Lastly, use a sunscreen with a high SPF. In addition to the above measures, sun protection from UVA and UVB radiation will not only protect the skin against sunburn and sun damage, but also signs of ageing. Apply to all areas of the skin exposed to sunlight and regularly throughout the day – every couple of hours for children and maybe more often than that if they are going swimming.
It is true that we receive the essential vitamin D from sunlight. This plays an important role in our bone health as it helps other essential nutrients from our diet such as calcium and phosphorus be absorbed. So along with actually making us feel happy, vitamin D from the sun is good for our health.
Depending on your skin type, you may want to consider employing a sun protection measure all year round as radiation is always present and it may be worth discussing this, or any skin concerns you may have with your GP – especially if you find you or your little ones are particularly prone to sunburn or very fair skinned
Dr Liz Oyelakin