Even if you’re trying to top up your Vitamin D (made when you’re exposed to sunlight) staying out too long in the sun without protection will do more harm than good. SmartParents spoke with Dr Mark Koh, head and consultant in dermatology service at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
“Apart from its effects on the skin, excessive long-term sun exposure can lead to eye damage (such as cataracts) and suppression of the immune system, reducing the body’s ability to fight infections,” sums up Dr Koh.
We all know that too much UV exposure can lead to skin cancers, especially for those with fair skin, as well as ageing and wrinkling (though that’s your worry, not Bubba’s).
Daily use of sunblock will help to prevent these effects from occurring in your child. He also points out that sunblocks are only recommended only from six months of age. Babies younger than six months have to be properly covered up.
These are what you should look out for in a sunblock:
· It should at least offer SPF 30.
· It should be a “broad spectrum” one with protection against UVA and UVB.
· The ingredients “titanium dioxide” and “zinc oxide” – active ingredients that reflect light and block UVA and UVB rays — are physical sunblocks that literally cover up your skin. These can be less likely to cause a nasty skin reaction than chemical sunblocks.
· If you have a family history of skin cancer or atypical moles, or are very fair, you may need to pay more attention to your kids’ skin.
Dr Koh added that sunblock should be reapplied every one to two hours if your children are spending long periods of time outdoors. “Clothing with sun-protective factors…can be used in addition to sunscreens when children are outdoors. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses are additional useful measures.”
The last thing to note: Certain ingredients in the sunblock — especially chemical sunscreens including avobenzone and benzophenone — might trigger allergies, please check with your doctor before purchasing; or test sunblock on a small patch of skin on the child’s arm before applying it all over the body.
Main photo: INGimage
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