Planning a family day out under the sun?
Don’t skip the sunscreen – not under Singapore’s merciless sun.
Kids with sensitive skin may prefer creams, sticks or lotions, as these are generally not as drying as gels, fluids or sprays, says Dermatologist Low Chai Ling, former medical director of The Sloane Clinic and current Founder and Medical Director of SW1 Clinic. Children’s skin is also more sensitive than adult skin, so lotions or creams may feel more comfortable or irritate their skin less.
For very young kids, their skin is especially sensitive and can easily absorb too many chemicals. Choose a formulation with either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, as these are largely inert, non-irritating chemicals that provide good broad-spectrum protection.”
NEXT: Resist their resistance →
As adults, we know the importance of sunscreen. But kids? Not so much. Why would they want sticky gloops of weird stuff applied all over their skin?
For toddlers, apply sunscreen while they’re strapped in their car seat so they can’t squirm around (not as much, anyway). For slightly older kids, make it a game. For instance, ask them to make a pufferfish face while applying sunscreen on their face.
NEXT: Apply, apply, apply →
For the best protection, slather on sunscreen generously 30 minutes before going outdoors. Don’t forget to protect Junior’s ears, nose, lips and the tops of his feet. If using a spray, Dr Low recommends generous applications. Then use your hands to spread the formulation all over his skin.
On the face, she recommends spraying the sunscreen onto your fingers and smoothing it on, rather than spraying directly – he may inhale it or get it in his eyes.
NEXT: …and apply again →
Sunscreen – even the waterproof and water-resistant kinds – should be reapplied throughout the day, especially after your child swims or exercises, Dr Low advises. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean kids are then able to stay out longer in the sun than they would otherwise.
“Even if it looks cloudy, children still need protection when they’re outdoors,” says Dr Low. “It’s the UV rays, not the temperature, that do the damage. Clouds do not block UV rays; they filter them – and sometimes only slightly.”
NEXT: Wear protective gear →
For optimal coverage, Dr Low suggests putting your little one in sun-protective clothing on top of the sunscreen. They’re designed for use outdoors, and made from fabric that is rated for its level of UV protection.
Also, a little-known fact: Light-coloured, thin clothing like t-shirts offer practically zero UV protection, especially when wet. Dark colours and tightly-woven fabric offer the best protection.
NEXT: Not all sunscreens are created equal →
Know your UVAs and UVBs – the former causes sunburn, while the latter can contribute to skin cancer.
And pick out a sunscreen with ample sun protection factor (SPF) and a good PA ranking. SPF measures how long skin is protected from UVB rays and sunburn, while the PA ranking measures protection against UVA rays. Dr Low suggests buying a sunscreen containing an SPF of at least 15.
NEXT: Looking a little pink? →
The sun’s UV rays can damage your child’s skin quicker than you might expect – something like 15 minutes!
If your child is looking a little pink that evening, don’t dismiss it! The painful burning sensation and the full effect of sun exposure will surface the next day in full force. Soothe your child’s skin with pure aloe vera gel to minimize the sunburn.
NEXT: What formula? →
From Young Parents, October 2017 / Updated January 2020
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