Safety in the Sun

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Get the fun out of summer without the harmful effects, writes Kate Kelly

Summer is here and there is nothing more exciting than heading to the local park with your baby or tot in blissful sunshine or better yet, setting course for foreign climes to relax on the beach or by the pool.

No matter where you are though, you need to protect your baby soft, delicate skin from the damaging rays of the sun – and that counts even when you are home in Ireland. Just one incidence of sunburn in childhood, can increase your child’s risk of developing skin cancer later in life.

That doesn’t mean you have to lock the kids inside or only let them out in a spacesuit. With P&Ps must-have summer guide, you can get all the fun out of summer without the harmful effects!

Play it safe

If your baby is under 12 months of age, the best thing you can do to protect her tender, young skin is to keep her out of the sun altogether.

  • Make sure your baby is as covered up as possible whenever you go outside.
  • Dress her in loose-fitting cotton clothes, a wide brimmed hat and make sure that any exposed skin, like the face or hands, is protected with sunscreen.
  • If you are sitting outside, make sure your baby is in the shade. 

Timing is everything

Try to make sure thate the whole family is out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, when the suns rays are at their strongest. This is particularly important for babies and toddlers.

  • Canopies and umbrellas will create a cool, safe environment
  • Protective clothing should provide an extra safety net from dangerous rays.

Slip, slop, slap

Let’s face it, keeping toddlers and older kids inside during the summer months is going to be very difficult and absolutely impossible when you are on holidays, even in those danger afternoon hours. The solution? Total sunblock of at least SPF 20 (a cream that will block out both UVA and UVB radiation) applied to all exposed areas.

  • Apply sunblock at least 30 minutes before you go out (even in Ireland and dull days) and subsequently every 2-3 hours.
  • A sunblock will only retain its SPF if applied thickly, so be liberal when applying it.
  • Make sure you re-apply after swimming or lots of exercise and running about.
  • Freckling or any degree of redness will indicate enough sun for one day.

Water world

Your baby can become dehydrated a lot quicker than an adult and will probably find it much more difficult to acclimatise to hotter weather. If you are taking your baby out and about for more than 30 minutes or are heading to the beach, make sure that you have plenty of water readily available.

  • Use cooled, previously boiled water if your baby is less than 12 months.
  • It is fine to bring tap water if your baby is over a year old.

The eye’s the limit

Your child’s eyes need to be protected from the sun just as much as his skin. A good pair of sunglasses will prevent any long-lasting damage to eyes, so it is worth investing in a decent pair.

  • Sunglasses should have maximum UV protection.
  • Check that they are 100 per cent UV resistant.
  • Look for safety marks such as the British Safety Standard.

Troubleshooting

Here’s how you can help your baby if he is suffering from the effects of the sun:

Sunburn

  1. Make sure he is out of the sun completely until all the redness has gone.
  2. Apply a good Vitamin E cream to moisturise his skin.
  3. Give him plenty of fluids, to prevent him from getting dehydrated.
  4. If your child is sick, dizzy or has widespread redness or blistering, you should see your GP immediately.

Prickly heat

This is quite common in babies during hot weather. You might notice a faint red rash on his groin or on the bridge of his nose and he will be irritable and hot and bothered.

  1. Remove all his clothes to cool him down.
  2. Give him a lukewarm (and not cold0 bath.
  3. Dab calamine lotion on the red areas

Sunstroke

If your child is exposed to too much sun, he may become rapidly dehydrated. Sunstroke is dangerous and symptoms include; a high temperature (over 37˚C/98.6˚F); vomiting; and lethargy or drowsiness.

  1. Lower his temperature immediately by removing his clothes and putting him in a tepid (not cold) bath.
  2. Give him plenty of fluids.
  3. Give him the correct dosage of infant paracetamol.
  4. If you are concerned about your child at all, seek medical help immediately.

Its important to note that no matter where you are you need to protect your baby’s soft, delicate skin from the damaging rays of the sun.

 

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