Summer is here, even though we are not feeling a lot in London. Today’s contributing article is by Dr Jivraj who is member of Kensington Mums and a GP local to the Kensington & Chelsea area, graduated in 2006 from Imperial College and now specialises in training and education as well as contraception and women’s health.
While each year with the children brings it’s own challenges – summer is a great time for creating the fondest of memories. As the temperatures sore, whether the family is in London or abroad, keeping them safe whilst enjoying the sun -deserves specific attention.
Of all the solar radiation that bombards us during the year, ultraviolet light is the type that causes the most damage. UV light is split in to UVA and UVB and it’s the later that is responsible for the classic sunburn. UVA penetrates much deeper and over many years, can cause lasting damage to our genetic structure leading to skin cancer.
To protect us from these damaging effects, we now spend over £250 million each year in the UK on products designed to ward off the sun’s rays. So, how sunscreen savvy are you?
Sun Protection Factor (or SPF) only measures the sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin, and doesn’t tell you anything about the protection you also need from UVA.
Protection from the sun should start at birth and good habits can be re-enforced throughout childhood. Following the ABCs of preventing sunburn will help your family stay safe this summer.
Stay away from the sun during the hottest parts of the day (between 10am and 4pm) and ensure good shade.
Block the sun’s rays by using a good quality sunscreen with a minimum protection of SPF 30, plus UVA protection. The UVA should be rated at least 4 stars.
Choose the right kind of sunscreen for the day’s activities. Water resistant types are better for hot days while playing sport.
They should be applied 30 minutes before exposure to allow full binding of the ingredients to the skin, and to all areas including those that are often overlooked, such as the tops of the ears and the back of the neck.
Apply at least 35ml (about 6 to8 teaspoons) to the body. Studies show that most people apply only a quarter of the recommended amount, reducing their protection.
Reapplication is just as important as the initial application. Reapply the same amount of sunscreen every 2 hours.
Dress in long sleeves, wide brim hats that cover the forehead, eyes and neck and sunglasses with UV protection to prevent damage to the eyes. Children would benefit from specialist UV protected clothing.
Children younger than 6 months have very sensitive skin and it is safer that they are kept out of the sun.
The following are common symptoms of sunburn;
If you are concerned or unsure at all, always seek a medical opinion.
It is easy to underestimate your exposure to the sun, and sometimes the symptoms develop after several hours.
It is important to stop sun exposure as soon as sunburn is suspected, and to allow for complete resolution of the affected areas.
Cool the skin down by sponging with cold water, or have a cold bath or shower. A cold compress to the effected area may also help.
Apply a topical moisturizer such as aloe vera, or finely ground oatmeal (sold in drug stores) mixed with water.
Drink plenty of fluids over the next few days to prevent dehydration, and painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to help relieve any pain.
Stay safe this summer using these simple tips, and make the most of the great British weather.