Child Sun Safety

Sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer. Sunburn can happen in the UK as well as abroad so parents and carers should be aware at all times, especially during the summer months. Whether your child is in school or on holiday they could potentially get sunburned which can increase their chances of getting skin cancer. 

Even if your child has a tan, they are not protected from the sun’s harmful rays. Vitamin D, which our children get from time spent in sunlight is good for them, but this must be balanced with keeping them fully protected and exposed in a very safe way.

In This Section

Tips for Parents

  • During the summer and sunny days, parents should ensure that their child is well covered with at least factor 30, preferably factor 50, which should be re-applied frequently, especially after swimming or bathing.
  • Never let your child burn.
  • A hat should always be worn by the child, and clothing covering the body/skin.
  • Where possible shade should be provided and the child, if possible, should avoid being out in the sunlight when the UV rays are at their strongest, which is around 11am – 3pm from March to October.
  • If the child is in school, a small sun cream should be put in their bag, labelled, (a roll on is a good choice for school time), and where necessary, liaise with the school if their child has any allergies or if any forms for allowing the application of sun cream needs to be completed.
  • Parents can discuss with schools where their areas of shade are and ask if they have joined the council run sun safety campaign.

What factor sun cream (SPF) should be used on children?

When you are buying sun cream to use on your child, the label should have:

  • A sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, preferably 50 to protect against UVB
  • At least 4-star UVA protection – take a look at the back of the packaging

Make sure the sun cream is not past its expiry date and check the shelf life – best practice is that sun cream should be used within 12 months of opening.

How to apply sun cream

Most people do not apply enough sun cream. It is vitally important to apply enough sun cream to your children. If it is applied too thinly, the amount of protection it gives is reduced.

For maximum protection sun cream should be applied 30 minutes before exposure and re-applied every 1-1.5 hours. Application should cover all exposed skin, including ears, neck and legs. Babies and children with thin hair will also need sun cream on their scalp if they don’t wear a hat at all times.

Please ensure sun cream is reapplied generously and frequently, and according to the packaging instructions. It should be applied every two hours or straight after your child has been swimming, has towel dried, or is sweating.

Video support

What to do if your child gets sunburned

This should be avoided at all costs, but if your child gets sunburned you can do the following to make them feel more comfortable. 

  • Ensure lots of fluids are regularly drunk to avoid dehydration
  • Administer pain relief such as Calpol if required
  • Apply a water-based moisturiser to cool the affected area

Word from our Nurse

 Keep your children safe and happy in the sun by following the ‘slip slop slap’ approach – slip on the clothing, slop on the sun cream and slap on the hat.

Nurse Katy, Oak Tree Surgery

Things to Remember

  • Although Sunburn usually clears up within a week, it can lead to Skin Cancer so should be avoided at all costs.

  Heat Stroke can also be extremely serious and if treatment steps are followed and no improvement is seen within 30 minutes, 999 should be called.

If you want more information about sunburn and heatstroke, click here.