How to keep our children’s skin safe in the sun


Summer is here and it's important to be sun safe

Being outside with our families is so much fun but we need to be mindful of the effect our New Zealand sun can have on our children’s skin as well as our own.

An overdose of sun can lead to sunburn, skin and eye damage. Our bodies however do need some sun to help make Vitamin D which is very important for things like strong bones and muscles. We just need to take precautions not to overdo our sun exposure.

Here in New Zealand we do have naturally high UV levels compared with countries of similar latitudes. Our peak UV levels can be 40 percent higher than peak UV levels in similar North American latitudes!

The sun in NZ is harsher due to two main factors – firstly we have clearer air than other countries where smog or pollution can act as a bit of a sun screen.

How do we teach our children about being safe in the sun? We talk about it from a very early age, often and clearly. Explain that the sun cream we apply helps to stop the bits of the sun getting through that hurt our skin. We need to keep putting the sun cream on regularly because when we play and go in the water the cream rubs off and then our skin is not protected anymore.

The more we normalise applying sun cream daily all year round it will become a habit for our kids and they will do it without even thinking.

We need to be mindful of what time of the day we venture outside with the kids. The UV is always highest during the middle part of the day, so between 11am and 3pm it is wise to limit exposure during this time.

Finally sunburns significantly increase the lifetime risk of developing skin cancer, especially sunburns in childhood.

So, hats are really important, pop on a SPF 50 and reapply every 2 hours and more frequently if your kids are in and out of the water. Seek shade where you can and pop on a pair of sunglasses to protect their eyes. It will be a bit of a mission with hats and glasses to begin with but they will soon get use to them especially if it is routine before being able to go outside and do all the fun things kids love doing.

Thanks to Michelle Watts, Registered Nurse at NEO Skin Lab for sharing her valuable knowledge.