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Sunsmart Campaign, Keeping Your Kids Sunsafe

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

With research finding that kids spend up to three times more time in the sun that adults it has never been more important to teach them how to be sunsafe, here with advice is Norma Cronin.
Norma Cronin, Health Promotion Manager, Irish Cancer Society.

For the past fifteen years Norma has worked in the field of cancer prevention and health promotion at the Irish Cancer Society. In her current position as Health Promotion Manager, Norma manages all cancer and skin cancer prevention and early detection initiatives namely the Society's annual SunSmart campaign.

What is this year's sun smart campaign all about?
The message for this year's SunSmart campaign is about raising awareness about skin cancer across all ages. It's about highlighting how important it is to be SunSmart.

How can I protect my child?
Children spend more time outdoors and get an average of 3 times more sunrays than adults. Because of this, over a lifetime most people will get 80% of their exposure to the sun in their youth and only 20% as an adult.

Older children should be kept out of direct sunlight between 11am and 3pm. Protect their skin with hats, clothing and sunscreen whenever they are outdoors. Protect their eyes with sunglasses. Children's skin is very sensitive to the sun's rays. All children, whether they tan easily or not, should always be protected.

Protect your children in the sun by following the SunSmart Code:
. Use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and with UVA protection.
. Remember that ultraviolet radiation can be reflected onto your child even when they are in the shade, so use clothing, a hat and sunscreen too
. Dress your child in loose-fitting outfits with long sleeves and long shorts. Make sure they are made from close-woven material.
. Dress your child in a wide-brimmed hat which protects the neck, ears and face. A hat that ties under your child's chin may stop them from taking it off.
. Use sunglasses to protect your child's eyes. The sunglasses should have the European Standard (EN 1836) or British Standard (BS 27 24 19 87).
. Be a Sunsmart role model. Children often copy what people do around them. Teaching children to protect themselves in the sun while they are young sets a good example for later life.
. Plan outdoor events so that your child is indoors as much as possible between 11am and 3pm. Encourage children to play in the shade when they are outdoors

How can I protect my baby?
Damage to our skin begins with our first exposure to sunlight. It builds up year after year. So the exposure we get during childhood increases our chances of skin cancer later in life. A baby has delicate skin that is thinner and burns more easily than an adult's skin. Newborn babies, in particular, and babies less than 6 months old should be kept out of the direct sunlight as much as possible.

. Dress your baby in loose outfits that have long sleeves and long pants.
. Make sure they are made from a close-woven material.
. When your baby begins to hold up their head, dress them in a soft hat with a flap at the back.
. When your child is older and can sit unaided, use a hat with a tie under the chin .
. Plan outdoor events so that the baby is kept indoors as much as possible between 11am and 3pm.
. When babies are outdoors, keep them in the shade as much as possible.
. Use an umbrella to protect your child while they are in their pram or buggy.
. Apply sunscreen to small areas of skin that cannot be protected with clothing, such as your baby's face and hands.

Should I put sunscreen on my baby?
Keep your baby out of the sun and protected with clothes, hats and shade. Then you only need to use sunscreen on the areas of skin that are not protected by clothing.
If possible, use a sunscreen that is made especially for babies and children. And always patch test the sunscreen on your baby's skin before you use it. Some babies may get skin irritation from sunscreen. Always use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and with UVA protection.

You should always take care in the sun but extra precautions should be taking if your child meets any of the flowing criteria,
. Pale or freckled skin that burns easily or doesn't tan;
. Naturally red or fair hair;
. Blue, green or grey eyes;
. 50 or more moles;
. Have a history of sunburn;
. Have a personal or family history of skin cancer; or
. Spend a lot of time playing outdoors.

Looking at sunscreen, what should one be looking for on a bottle of sunscreen to give you piece of mind?
Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15/Medium or higher and UVA protection. Make sure that the product complies with UVA European recommendations (2006). The presence of the attached UVA logo reassures you that it does.

What do the various letter abbreviations mean?
. SPF - Sun Protection Factor
. UV - ultraviolet
. UVR - ultraviolet radiation
. UVA - Ultraviolet radiation A. This type of radiation can cause skin ageing and contribute to skin cancer. It accounts for most of the radiation that reaches the earth
. UVB - ultraviolet radiation B. This type of radiation can burn the skin, damage the eyes and cause skin cancer

Are there types of sunscreen that are certified by the Irish Cancer Society?
The Irish Cancer Society recommends that people use sun screens with an SPF of 15/Medium or higher and UVA protection which complies with EU recommendations. Waterproof sun screens should be used when involved in water sports

Can you rely on waterproof sunscreen or should you be re applying sunscreen to your kids every time they get out of the water?
Water resistant sunscreens are less likely to be washed or sweated off however even "water-resistant" sunscreens may lose their effectiveness after 40 minutes in the water. Sunscreens rub off as well as wash off, so if you've towel-dried, reapply sunscreen for continued protection (American Academy of Dermatology)

Does sunscreen go out of date?
Unless indicated by an expiration date, the FDA requires that all sunscreens be stable and at their original strength for at least three years (American Academy of Dermatology).
Sun screens should be stored out of direct sunlight and in a cool place (if possible)
While you can use the sunscreen that you bought last summer, keep in mind that if you are using the appropriate amount, a bottle of sunscreen should not last very long.
EU recommendations (2006) say that 6 teaspoons of sunscreen be applied to the average adult / 36 grams

What products are available to protect my child?
There are many products on the market to protect your child from the sun. Today we're featuring three products which are widely available.
. Wraparound Sunglasses
These sunglasses offer your child the ultimate in sun protection by bringing you the protection collection, which includes Baby Banz patented wrap-around 100% UV protection sunglasses, adjustable UV sun hats and UPF50+ Banz swim wear!
. SunSplash Sun suit and hat set
The SunSplash UV Sun Suits are flexible and lightweight covering sensitive arms and legs without restricting movement (for optimum sandcastle construction).
SunSplash younger suits (0-3 years) have press stud crotches for easy nappy changing access. Plus their unique and distinctive design makes your child clearly visible on the beach or at the poolside. The complementary UV Sun Hats are a snug fit, and even retain their shape after they've been tightly packed into a suitcase!
UPF 50+, tested to Australian standards, which means they block over 97.5% of Ultra Violet Radiation.
. Infant Play Shade

This Infant Play Shade is ideal for the beach! This shade provides UPF (50+) and comes complete with sand pockets and pegs that makes it ideal for the beach or garden. Includes its own convenient carry bag for traveling and storage. / 1800 200 700
Tent and Sunglasses are from
Clothing is from Marks and Spencers and Dunnes Stores