Are you protecting your child with the best sunscreen for kids?

British children have the highest skin cancer rate in Europe, according to a report by the Australian Suncare brand Sunsence. Researchers found 10 percent of British parents don't protect their children with sunscreen. Considering that choosing the best sunscreen for kids is not a dificult concept to grasp, parents in Britain must bear some of the blame for the high rate of skin cancer cases among children in the country.

So, do YOU protect your child with sunscreen?

Protecting children with sunscreen

The sun may not always shine in Britain and the best sunscreen for kids may seem mild compared to products used in other parts of the world, but that is not reason enough not to protect your child from the sun’s most potent types of UV (ultraviolet) rays—ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA causes premature ageing, while UVB rays causes burning. Both UV rays increase the risk of skin cancer.

According to another study conducted by The British Skin Foundation, a quarter of British parents don’t think it is necessary to apply sunscreen to protect kids against harmful UV and UVB rays when leaving the house during the summer months. Dr Richard Turner, a consultant dermatologist and expert on skin cancer at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, however, says:

“Protecting your child's skin is particularly important, as children are exposed to greater doses of UV than adults. Children spend more time outdoors and have long summer holidays - it’s estimated they get 25 percent of their lifetime exposure by the time they are 18.”

Dr Turner adds that even in Britain where the sun does not always shine, 80 percent of the two harmful types of UV rays still get through and can cause sun burn even on cloudy days.

“Sunburn in childhood can double the risk of skin — cancer, causing deep-seated damage that only becomes apparent much later as skin cancer can take years to develop,” cautions Dr Turner.

Guidance on applying sunscreen

A wide range of kid-friendly sunscreen products are readily available in the market, but not all products protect adequately. Dr Turner says the best sunscreen for kids have both a high UVA and a high UVB rating. He adds that it is good practice to always check sunscreen product ratings, even though sunscreen products in the market do not always list UVA and UVB ratings.

When sunscreen product ratings are available, UVA rating is measured out of a five star rating scale, while UVB is measured in terms of skin protection factor (SPF). Children's sunscreen should have a minimum of 30SPF, and perhaps 40SPF for babies and toddlers, says Dr Turner.

When it comes to applying sunscreen, Dr Turner says most people don’t put enough sunscreen. He recommends applying one tablespoon worth of sunscreen for a two-year-old, two table spoon worth of sunscreen for a ten-year-old and four tablespoons for an adult.

He also says you should apply sunscreen 30 minutes before your child goes outside to give it time to dry and then re-apply every two or three hours after swimming.

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