Stay Sun Smart!

Pic: Lykaestria on Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Pic: Lykaestria on Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

With today touted to be perhaps the hottest day of the year, pharmacists are advising parents to help keep children safe in the sun!

Daragh Connolly, Vice-President of the Irish Pharmacy Union and a pharmacist himself, says that caution now can protect against problems in later life: “It takes only a few blistering sunburns during childhood to double a person’s lifetime chance of developing melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. Children don’t have to be at the pool, beach or on vacation to get too much sun. Their skin needs protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays whenever they’re outdoors. It can be very distressing for a child if they get sunburn or overexposure to the sun as it can cause pain, itchiness, blistering, headache, fever and chills.”

The IPU has released the following checklist to ensure the best care is taken to avoid dangerous amounts of sun:

  • Cover Up. Children should wear a hat, a loose-fitting t-shirt and shorts/pants where possible. Sun cream alone should never be the first line of defence for sun protection.
  • Wear sunglasses. A good pair of sunglasses will help shield eyes from UV radiation, which can lead to cataracts later in life. Look for sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
  • Stay in the shade. Whenever children are outdoors, keep them in the shade as much as possible. Keep infants under six months out of direct sun.
  • Schedule outdoor time. Go outdoors in the early morning and late afternoon, when the sun is lower.
  • Sun cream. Use a reputable sunscreen that complies with EU recommendations. Children should wear a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and UVA protection. Waterproof sunscreens should be used if children are involved in water sports or at the beach and in and out of the water. For the best protection, apply sunscreen generously 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapply liberally throughout the day. Don’t forget to protect ears, noses, lips and the tops of feet. As Daragh Connolly advises, “With so many sun cream brands on the market, it is important to choose one that suits your child’s skin type. Your local pharmacist can provide advice on what to use. If a child does get too much sun, it is best to consult with your pharmacist straight away as it may be necessary to give a child some mild medication for pain relief.”

By Aimée Mac Leod