How can you protect your kid from harmful UV rays? Take the confusion out with these expert tips.
The numbers game
When buying sunscreen for Junior, choose one that shields his skin from UVA and UVB rays. The former causes sunburn, while the latter can contribute to skin cancer. Also look out for the product’s sun protection factor (SPF) and PA ranking.
SPF measures how long skin is protected from UVB rays and sunburn, while the PA ranking measures protection against UVA rays. Dermatologist Low Chai Ling, medical director of The Sloane Clinic, suggests buying a sunscreen containing an SPF of at least 15.
Kids with sensitive skin may prefer creams, sticks or lotions, as these are generally not as drying as gels, fluids or sprays, says Dr Low. Children’s skin is also more sensitive than adult skin, so lotions or creams may feel more comfortable or irritate their skin less.
“On young children, sunscreens that remain white after applying – at least for a few minutes – also help you ensure complete coverage,” Dr Low adds. “Obviously, if your child is going to be swimming, sunscreen that does not come off in the water is desirable.
“For very young kids, choose a formulation with either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, as these are largely inert, non-irritating chemicals that provide good broad-spectrum protection.”
Apply, apply, apply…
For the best protection, slather on sunscreen generously 30 minutes before going outdoors. Don’t forget to protect Junior’s ears, nose, lips and the tops of his feet. If using a spray, Dr Low recommends generous applications. Then use your hands to spread the formulation all over his skin.
On the face, she recommends spraying the sunscreen onto your fingers and smoothing it on, rather than spraying directly – he may inhale it or get it in his eyes.
…And apply again
Sunscreen – even the waterproof and water-resistant kinds – should be reapplied throughout the day, especially after your child swims or exercises, Dr Low advises. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean kids are then able to stay out longer in the sun than they would otherwise.
If Junior is going to be spending a substantial amount of time outdoors – for instance, during a sports competition – then you should apply sunscreen to exposed areas of his skin, and reapply the product every couple of hours.
“Even if it looks cloudy, children still need protection when they’re outdoors,” says Dr Low. “It’s the UV rays, not the temperature, that do the damage. Clouds do not block UV rays; they filter them – and sometimes only slightly.”
Wear protection, too
For optimal coverage, Dr Low suggests putting your little one in sun-protective clothing on top of the sunscreen. They’re designed for use outdoors, and made from fabric that is rated for its level of UV protection.
(Also read: 4 ways to beat the heat with your baby)
Install glass that reduces heat and UV rays
Even though your kids are indoors, it doesn’t mean that harmful UV rays can’t get to them, especially if your home is filled with natural daylight.
While it brightens the interior and enlivens the space, natural daylight also comes with heat, ultraviolet rays and glare issues. It would seem that you can’t have the best of both worlds as there is always a trade-off.
SSG VariShield is a self-tinting glass which changes in tint according to the sun’s heat to attain a comfortable interior environment for your family by effectively reducing UV rays, heat, glare and ambient noise.
You’ll find that you rely less on your air-conditioning system and indoor lighting, hence bringing down your monthly electrical bills as well.
(Photos: 123RF.com & Singapore Safety Glass)