Babies and children

Protect your child's skin from the sun

Protect your child s skin from the sun How to avoid sunburn

Most of the newspapers today are running the story of a five month old baby boy who suffered burns on 40 per cent of his body after a day at the beach on Sunday.

Fortunately police community support officers spotted the sunburnt infant on Brighton beach and called for an ambulance. Severe sunburn can cause such a loss of body fluid resulting in shock, a life threatening medical emergency.

A child's skin is more at risk of sunburn compared to an adults. In addition, sunburn as a child also increases the chances of skin cancer later as an adult.

How to protect your child from the sun

Too much sun on the skin can cause sunburn, as well as premature ageing and skin cancer. It's the invisible ultraviolet UVA and UVB rays present in sunlight which can cause damage to the skin. The main way to avoid UV damage is to reduce the amount of skin exposure to the sun.


When choosing a sunscreen, look for one which protects against both UVA and UVB radiation, with a SPF of 15 or higher. It should also have a high star rating.

Apply sunscreens at least 10-15 minutes before going out into the sun, and its always a good idea to reapply once you are outdoors in case you have missed any patches of skin.

Remember to apply sunscreen to those areas of the skin which might become exposed to the sun when the children are playing e.g underneath the edges of swimsuits, bare feet etc.

Always reapply sunscreens every two hours, and after swimming, even if it is a waterproof type.


All children should wear a broad brimmed hat in the sun, preferably one which also protects the back of their neck.

Cover arms, legs and shoulders as much as possible with loose fitting clothing. If swimming, use a cotton t-shirt or better still with a UV protective swimsuit.

If possible, try to get children to wear sunglasses. Avoid the cheap gaudy found on seaside piers, and choose ones which give 100 per cent UV protection. Darker lenses don't give greater protection. Wraparound sunglasses are best as they block sunlight from the side.


Sunscreens and clothing are not enough to protect skin from the harmful effects of the sun. You should also try to keep yoour child out of the sun when it is at it's most intense - between 11am and 3pm. When on the beach, take some shade with you such as parasols and beach tents.

All children under the age of 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight as much as possible.

This article was published on Wed 26 May 2010

Image © Liaurinko -

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