You asked

What do I need to know about sun safety?

It is no secret that the sun can be dangerous. Increased reports of skin cancer, and even the pain of severe sunburn, should be enough to prompt any responsible parent to look into proper sun safety for their children.

Sunburn can occur in children in as little as 10 to 15 minutes. Their delicate skin is particularly susceptible to UV rays, and while you may not notice the damage immediately, it can be quite severe. In fact, while most sunburn is a mild first-degree burn, there are cases where children and adults alike have second-degree burns with blistering and swelling.

It does not need to be a sunny day either – your child can still get burned when it is overcast, or even when he or she is sitting under a sunshade.

Mild sunburn can be treated by applying a damp, cool, and soft cloth to the area, and following with a water-based moisturiser. More severe burns should be referred to your doctor, who may prescribe a topical steroid cream to treat blistered and damaged skin.

Avoiding the sun as much as possible, particularly during the most dangerous hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. is the best way to avoid serious sunburn. Making sure that your child is covered in a high SPF sunscreen is another important factor, and reapplying often is critical. Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before you go into the sun, and after every time your child is in the water. Also, make sure that your child wears a hat to protect his or her head.

Some children may be allergic to certain chemicals in sunscreens. If that is the case with your child, look for physical sun block products that do not contain the chemicals that other sunscreen lotions do.

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