It’s no secret that we like to lead an outdoor, adventure rich lifestyle, but being out & about means being exposed to the elements, so what’s the deal with sunscreen & UV rays? And how can you make sure you & your family are protected?
We know this one may seem really simple, but you’d be surprised with how many sunscreen application misconceptions there are out there.
So here are a few tips & facts from our We Are Feel Good Inc. Skin Cancer Doctor…
When should you apply sunscreen?
If the UV index is above 3 or if you’re going to be outside for more than 8 minutes (some fair-skinned people can be sunburnt in even less time)!
In Australia, in most areas, there are not many days where the UV index goes below 3 for any extended length of time. This means that for the majority of Australia winter you’re at high risk for sun damage. Sunscreen should be an all year, daily routine.
So how much sunscreen do you need to apply?
Most people do not apply enough sunscreen…
The average-sized adult needs a teaspoon of sunscreen for their head and neck, each limb and for the front and the back of the body. That is about 35ml of sunscreen for one full-body application.
How long before sun exposure & how often do you need to apply sunscreen?
Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you go outside and re-apply again every two hours (whether or not the label tells you to do this).
Remember to reapply after swimming or excessive sweating.
Does cloud coverage protect you from UV Rays?
Cloud cover reduces UV penetration to the skin by as little as 20%. So don’t think that a cloudy sky gives you much protection.
Same goes for driving, windscreens give minimal protection.
What about sunscreen for babies?
If your baby is between the age of 0-6 months…
Infants under 6 months of age should be kept out of the sun. Their skin is too sensitive for the sun and most sunscreens.
An infant's skin possesses little melanin, the pigment that gives colour to skin, hair and eyes and provides some sun protection. Therefore, babies are especially susceptible to the sun's damaging effects. If you are to use a sunscreen, use broad-spectrum, SPF50+ at least, and do a patch test to make sure no allergies.
Use only very occasionally when it can’t be avoided, you’re better off using a safe sunscreen occasionally than having your baby getting sunburnt.
What else can you do to protect your baby?
Use removable mesh window shields to keep direct sunlight from coming in through the windows of your car or invest in UV window film, which can screen almost 100% of ultraviolet radiations without reducing visibility.
Take walks early in the morning before 10 AM or after 4 PM and use a stroller with a sun-protective cover.
Dress your baby in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs.
Choose a wide-brimmed hat or bonnet that protects the baby's face, neck, and ears. A baby who wears a hat during the first few months will get used to having it on.
If your baby is between the age of 6-12 months…
It's now safe to use sunscreen on your baby, but avoid oxybenzones, PABA’s, Parabens and Retinyl palmytate as they may either cause allergies or potentially disrupt hormones.
Apply broad-spectrum, SPF 50+ sunscreen to areas left uncovered such as your baby's hands.
Sunscreen must be applied 30 minutes before going outside and reapplied every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
Sunscreen for toddlers & school-aged kids.
Protecting toddlers from the sun requires a little more thought and effort. It is important to educate your child and care-givers.
Look for broad-spectrum sunscreens with an SPF 50+ or higher. Spray-on sunscreens are a joke as an even spread is unlikely and inhalation is not advisable. Go preservative free if you can as less chance of reactions/allergies.
Make sure your child seeks the shade between 10 AM and 4 PM. Check the outdoor area where your child plays to make sure there is adequate shade.
Make sure toddlers are covered. Long-sleeved, unbleached cotton clothing that is cool and comfortable, whilst also being highly protective. Clothing with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) listing on the label offers extra security. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends clothing with a UPF of 30 or higher.
Don't forget hats and sunglasses. Choose a wide-brimmed hat that protects face, neck, and ears.
Sunscreen is only part of your protection!
SLIP SLOP SLAP SEEK SLIDE!
Sunscreen should form part of overall sun protection that includes clothing, broad hat, seeking shade and avoiding being out in direct sunlight when it is brightest (SLIP on a shirt, SLOP on some sunscreen, SLAP on a hat, SEEK shade, SLIDE on sunglass.
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