Children’s Hospital experts offer advice to stay safe in the sun
It seems that summer has arrived and with forecasts for sun and high UV levels over the bank holiday and schools half-term break experts at Birmingham Children’s Hospital are sharing advice to help families stay safe.
Sunburn and excess exposure to sunshine, increases risk of skin cancer. This damage doesn’t just happen on holidays abroad; you can burn in the UK and even when it’s cloudy. Having a tan doesn’t protect from the sun’s harmful effects.
Even getting sunburnt only once every two years has been shown to triple risk of getting melanoma cancers.
The good news is that it’s quite easy to be safe when you’re outside by taking some simple steps including:
- Protect the skin with clothing, including a hat, t-shirt and sunglasses.
- Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its strongest.
- Use sunscreen of at least SPF30 and make sure that it has UVA and UVB protection with a four-star rating and symbol on the bottle. Apply it liberally and frequently throughout the day.
- Keep babies and young children out of direct sunlight.
Dr Chris Chiswell, Public Health Consultant at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Remember that to get the maximum benefit from sunscreen, you need to apply it more than once a day. Applying it only once, too thinly or not reapplying as it washes off with water or sweat, will all make it work less well. Sunscreen can go out of date, so don’t rely on that old bottle at the back of the cupboard.
“Whilst people with naturally brown or black skin are less likely to get skin cancer, you can still burn and should take the same precautions, particularly for younger children.”
Adults should apply around two teaspoons of sunscreen to cover the head, arms and neck, or two tablespoons if covering the entire body. If someone is out in sun long enough to risk burning, they should apply sunscreen twice, 30 minutes before going out and then again just before going out.
Dr Chiswell added: “Don’t forget to look after your eyes when you’re out in the sun as well; reflected light can cause damage to the surface of the eye and you should wear appropriate sunglasses on bright days, particularly when around snow, sand, concrete or water. “
On very hot days, people should also be aware of the risks of heat exhaustion. Symptoms include:
- loss of appetite
- feeling sick
- fast breathing
- fast pulse
- high temperature
Children can also become floppy and sleepy.
Dr Chiswell added: “Someone with potential heat exhaustion should move to a cool place, lie down, drink plenty of water and gently cool their skin with a cold compress and fan. Families find more advice on nhs.uk, as well as when to call 999 if symptoms worsen and they develop heatstroke.”
For more information on all these issues, visit the health and wellbeing pages on the Birmingham Women’s and Children’s website: https://bwc.nhs.uk/wellbeing