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School summer holidays were meant for playing in the park and building sandcastles on the beach! But whilst a good dose of vitamin D from the sun can help your little ones absorb calcium to build stronger, healthier bones, it’s vitally important they enjoy fun in the sun safely. Because even here in Scotland, over exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause a variety of lasting health problems, including skin damage, eye damage, and even skin cancer. In fact, even on a cloudy summer’s day, UV rays can still cause sunburn, so here are three simple ways to keep your children safe in the sun this summer.
Dress for the weather
Wide-brimmed hats to shadow the face and lightweight cotton clothes that cover the skin should be wardrobe staples during the hot summer months. And don’t forget one vital accessory – sunglasses. Exposure to the sun can result in burns to the surface of the eye, even from reflective surfaces, so encourage your child to wear sunglasses that provide 100% UV protection at all times. Elasticated straps that keep shades in place are the perfect solution for active kids.
Slather on the sunscreen
During the summer, get into the habit of wearing sunscreen every day, even when it’s cloudy. It’s not just about avoiding burns; too much sun exposure can cause skin to age prematurely leading to wrinkles and sun spots. Apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before you go outdoors and again just before you leave. And remember, water washes off sunscreen, even if it’s labelled waterproof or water-resistant, so it’s important to keep topping up.
Head for the shade
The sun is at its most powerful between 11am and 3pm so it’s best to head indoors or find a shady spot to enjoy your al fresco lunch. Parasols and pop-up sun tents are ideal options for providing shelter in exposed gardens.
In the event that your child does get sunburn, it’s best to act fast. The tell-tale red skin will be accompanied by a sensation of heat and pain, turning to itchiness, but encourage your child not to scratch to avoid the skin underneath the sunburn becoming infected.
Instead, apply a cool, wet compress to the affected skin, followed by a pure aloe vera gel and a moisturiser to help to rehydrate the skin and ease the itching. An anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen can help to ease the pain, but if the sunburn is severe and blisters develop, it’s important you call your doctor.
If you have any concerns about sunburn or you’d like further information about staying safe in the sun this summer, book an appointment at YourGP by emailing our reception team at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0131 225 5656. The Scottish sun doesn’t usually stick around for long, but when it does make an appearance, don’t let sunburn ruin your fun.
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