Expert tips to prevent sunburn

With summer fast approaching experts are urging parents to make sure they are ready to protect their child’s skin against harmful UV rays.

And the British Skin Foundation says remember that sunburn can cause long-term damage to the skin and prevention should be the key.

Spokesman and Consultant Dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto said: “Young skin is particularly vulnerable to the effects of ultraviolet radiation.

“Babies below the age of six months have little melanin, or pigment, in their skin and their skin is also too sensitive for the use of sunscreens.

“It is, therefore, important that young babies are not left in direct sunlight. After six months of age, sunscreen is safe to apply.”

When looking for a sunscreen Dr Mahto added: “Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that offers protection against UVA and UVB light with a minimum of SPF 30.

“Remember to apply about 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every two hours after swimming or excessive sweating.”

Foundation experts warn parents that it is important to use sunscreen in conjunction with other sun-protection measures:

Seek shade between 11am-3pm when the sun is at its hottest and taking walks before 10am and after 4pm

Dress your child in lightweight protective clothing covering the arms and legs

Protect their head, neck and ears with a wide brimmed hat

Protect the delicate eye area with UV protection sunglasses

For babies, a pram with a canopy or cover will also add extra protection.

But what happens if a child suffers sunburn?

Dr Anjali Mahto explains, “If a child below 12 months of age has sunburn, you should seek medical attention immediately as there is a risk of becoming severely unwell.”

For children over 12 months, Dr Mahto recommends the following:

Act quickly and get out of the sun

Cover up the affected areas and keep your children in the shade until the sunburn has healed. Wear loose cotton clothing that allows the skin to “breathe” over the sunburnt areas.

Take over the counter pain relief regularly until the skin starts to settle.

Cool the skin by applying a cool compress to the skin eg a dampened towel or give the child a cool bath or shower. Aim to keep the temperature just below luke-warm. If blisters are starting to develop, then a bath is preferable. Pat them dry.

Moisturise with an unperfumed cream or lotion afterwards. Aloe vera or soy containing gels or lotions can be beneficial.

Give the child plenty of liquids to drink.