Safety - in the sun - Better Lives Healthy Futures

Safety – in the sun

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Children are more sensitive to sunburn than adults, so it’s important to protect them.

Just a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life. Sun can burn even when it’s cloudy and children don’t have to be outside at the pool, beach, or on holiday to get too much sun.

The sun is at its strongest from March to October in the UK. Follow these simple tips to protect your child’s skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays:

Top tips for staying safe in the sun

Cover up – long-sleeved shirts and long pants or skirts provide protection; a hat can shade the face, scalp, ears and neck; sunglasses can protect eyes – check they block as close to 100% UVA and UVB rays as possible.

Spend time in the shade, particularly from 11am to 3pm

Use at least SPF30 sunscreen with high UVA and UVB protection

Apply sunscreen generously (30 minutes before children go out) to areas not protected by clothing, such as the face, lips, ears, feet and backs of hands

Keep sun protection handy—in your car, bag, or child’s backpack and reapply during the day – every two hours and after swimming, exercising, or towelling off – even if the product is waterproof or water-resistant.

Children often get sunburned when they are outdoors unprotected for longer than expected. Sunscreen is not meant to allow children to spend more time in the sun than they would otherwise. Try combining sunscreen with other options to prevent UV damage.

Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes. Yet it can take up to 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure. So, if your child’s skin looks a bit pink today, it may be burned tomorrow morning. To prevent further burning, get your child out of the sun.

To ensure they get enough vitamin D, all children 5 and under are advised to take vitamin D supplements.

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Further information

Sunscreen and sun safety

Advice from the NHS website for adults and children on sunscreen and sun safety in the UK and abroad.