An ongoing hot issue

WE’VE waited all year for summer to come and want to make the most of it. But what about our children and their sensitive skin which needs particular care when the sun shines or even when the skies are clouded over?

Dr Bernadette Carr is the medical director of VHI healthcare. She says no matter how much sun is poking through the clouds, we need to ensure the younger generation is protected at all times.

“Children’s skin is very sensitive to UV rays and all children, whether they tan easily or not, should be protected against the sun’s rays,” she says.

“When children are over-exposed to the sun in their early years their risk of developing skin cancer later in life is increased as sun damage is permanent, irreversible and cumulative. Severe sunburn in childhood increases the risk of a skin cancer known as malignant melanoma.”

But not all sunlight is harmful and to make sufficient vitamin D, we should aim to get enough exposure to be beneficial.

“UV rays are not all bad. In fact, they are needed by the body to activate vitamin D, to kill certain germs and to boost our mood,” Dr Carr says.

A spokeswoman for the Irish Association of Dermatologists says while overexposure to UV rays damages the skin irreparable, children can still enjoy the benefit of the sun’s rays without damage by following simple precautions.

* Children should wear a hat with a brim or a long flap at the back and a loose fitting t-shirt with a collar and sleeves.

* They should wear sunscreen with a protection factor of 50+ and which contains protection against UVA and UVB rays.

* Keep children out of the sun when it is at its strongest (11am-3pm).

* Keep babies under six months in the shade.

* To make sure your child doesn’t become dehydrated, give plenty of fluids — babies should be given cooled boiled water as well as regular feeds.

* Paddling pools and play areas should be kept in the shade.

* Keep bedrooms cool during the day by keeping blinds or curtains closed and allow children to have a cool bath before bedtime.


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