Singapore has recorded “extreme” ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels this past week, reaching the highest value of 15 on the UV index.
Because young children and infants are highly susceptible to sunburns when left unprotected outdoors for longer periods of time (which can increase their risk of skin cancer later in life), this is a timely reminder to take extra precautions to protect your child’s sensitive skin. Here are five important tips to remember.
Putting on sunscreen can be a chore, even for ourselves, but don’t neglect this essential step as it protects your child’s skin from dangerous UV rays. As long as your child is heading outside, reach for SPF30 sunscreen that provides UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection. Apply generously – not forgetting the ears, noses, lips and tops of the feet. If you’re headed out for a long outing outdoors, bring along the sunscreen for reapplication throughout the day.
Take note that sunscreen isn’t recommended for infants under six months. For parents concerned about exposing their child to harsh chemicals, you can opt for natural formulations using titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
Stay in the shade
According to the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS), UV index levels are highest between 11am to 3pm daily. Apart from avoiding the midday sun, seeking shade wherever possible – under an umbrella, a tree, etc. – can offer some, albeit minimal, protection.
Throwing on a wide brimmed hat, long sleeved shirt or long pants can offer your child some sun protection, but the average T-shirt only offers an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 5. Parents can opt for UV protective clothing that offers up to UPF 50+ so your child can “safely” spend more time in the sun.
Complete your child’s UV protection with sunglasses! Because exposure to UV rays can increase a child’s risk for cataracts and macular degeneration later in life, sunglasses can be more than a stylish accessory. As a guideline, look for shades bearing a UV-protection sticker, 100% UVA and UVB light protection, shatterproof lenses and a snug wrap-around design for total peripheral protection.
Educate your child on sun protection
As they get older, encourage your child to develop good sun protection habits such as applying sunscreen and staying in the shade. This ensures they’ll be protected even when you’re not by their side.