Living in sunny Singapore offers plenty of Vitamin D and clear blue skies during the day.
However, with young children, we sometimes tend to prefer staying indoors because of the sweltering heat in a bid to avoid getting them all sweaty, messy and to protect them from the sun.
Outdoor play often means being in a different environment, inhaling fresh air and basking in the glorious sun. And there’s just so much to explore in the great outdoors that does wonders for a kid’s development!
However, overexposure to the sun is known to be harmful to our skin. How can our children enjoy a healthy dose of sunshine without putting them at risk for skin damage?
Does our skin have any natural protection against the sun?
Nature is miraculous, and everyone is born with a natural protection against the sun. Melanin is a natural pigment found in our skin, which determines the colour of our skin, iris and hair. Those with dark skin have more melanin in them.
Melanin is produced by melanocytes; cells naturally found in our bodies. Besides offering protection again skin damage from the sun, melanocytes increase their production of melanin in response to sun exposure too. Freckles result due to an increase in melanin production.
So, why are parents concerned about children playing outdoors when we have a natural sun protection in place? Do children need more protection when they are out in the sun? Read on to find out if these are facts or myths!
#1: We all know that children have more delicate skin than adults. Is it safe for infants and toddlers to be in the sun?
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, babies under six months old should be kept away from the sun due to their sensitive skin. For older children, using child-appropriate sunscreens help protect their skin from the harmful UV rays and potential skin damage. Sun safety education is essential to children too, so they are aware about protecting themselves from the burning sun.
Children need vitamin D from the sun for healthy bone growth and development as it helps to absorb calcium. Adults need only about 5 – 30 minutes twice a week in the sun to get an adequate dose of vitamin D, so it’s important to limit the time where children are exposed to the sun. Not forgetting, their surface area is much smaller than an adult’s too!
#2: Is it true that babies below one do not need sun protection such as sunscreen?
We spoke to Daylong Singapore to find out if babies under the age of one require sunscreen and other sun protection. And we found out that it is not that babies below one year old do not need sun protection, rather they should avoid exposure to the sun and UV radiation as much as possible, as their skin is delicate and may get sun burnt easily.
#3: If my child’s skin turns a darker shade, does it mean that she is getting a good dose of Vitamin D?
The Daylong expert also helped clarified this myth for us and no, a person does not need to be tanned in order to get sufficient Vitamin D. A daily 10-min exposure to sunlight in Singapore is sufficient as we are near the equator and UV radiation is high. Tanning is often considered a sign of beginning UV damage in the skin, and excessive tanning may cause skin pigmentation problems in the future.
#4: How much sunscreen and how often should we reapply on children?
In general, sunscreen should be applied liberally and evenly to all exposed areas of the skin approximately 20 minutes before sun exposure. Sunscreen should also be reapplied every two to four hours.
Certain sunscreen brands like Daylong Kids SPF 50+ Lotion have dosing guides to help gauge the amount of sunscreen to be applied on children.
#5: What about sunscreen application during different activities (E.g. waterplay, at a picnic/outdoor playground, during winter etc.)? Would it be different?
As a general guide, sunscreen should be reapplied every two to four hours.
The Daylong expert also provided us with tips in the event of heavy perspiration or water activities. In such cases, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours or after every vigorous toweling. Even with sunscreen on, it is advisable to seek the shade whenever possible, or to make use of clothing, hats and appropriate eyewear to minimize exposure to sunlight.
During winter, the body is usually wrapped in layers of clothing, but the face and eyes could still be exposed to UV radiation from the sun, and that reflected off the snow and ice.
#6: How does physical sunscreen and chemical sunscreen differ? What ingredients should parents look out for that are safe for children?
Physical UV filters reflect UV radiation, but may give a whitish cast to the skin. Chemical UV filters are usually more cosmetically appealing and a small amount is absorbed by the skin.
Elaborating on this point further, the Daylong expert mentioned that sunscreen formulations could consist of a mixture of both physical and chemical UV filters, or a mixture of only chemical UV filters. The type and concentration of UV filters that are permitted in cosmetic products are regulated by guidelines in the EU and ASEAN region, and European brands generally meet the safety requirements.
#7: Can I use my regular sunscreen on my toddler? Is it really necessary to get one just for my child?
It is recommended to use a sunscreen specially formulated for children’s skin, as these are less likely to cause skin irritation to young skin.
#8: What should parents look out for in sunscreen suitable for kids?
A formulation that is dermatologist-tested and well-tolerated on kids’ skin; is hypoallergenic and suitable for children. It is recommended to do a skin patch test on your child prior to usage: apply a thin layer on your child’s wrist or the back of his ear and leave it over a few hours. Monitor if there might be any allergic reactions.
Tips for protecting children from the sun
Being prepared for outdoor activities can help make play sessions more enjoyable for the family. If you’re planning a day-out with the kids, don’t miss these 11 tips for outdoor play with your children!
Parents who are looking to take the brood out for some fun in the sun, here are some sun safety tips to note:
- Put on loose-fitting and light coloured clothing for your children
- Put on a sun hat for the kids to protect their scalp from getting burnt, and sunglasses to protect their eyes
- Limit outdoor play, stay in the shade and avoid being in the sun from 10am to 4 pm
- Apply child-friendly sunscreen for your kids to protect them from harmful UV rays and risk for sunburn or skin damage. Look out for a sunscreen with broad spectrum UVB and UVA filters like Daylong Kids SPF 50+ Lotion, which is specially developed for kids’ sensitive and delicate skin
- Remember to hydrate with water throughout the day as kids lose more fluids through perspiration on a hot day
- If the kids are on medications, do consult the doctors before stepping out into the sun as certain medications may increase skin’s sensitivity
While protecting your kids from the sun’s rays, don’t forget to protect yourself too! Sun protection is essential to keep the family safe, especially since we’re located near the equator and the sun can be rather unforgiving. Being a good example when it comes to sun protection helps your kids embrace the positive habit too!
This blog post is in collaboration with Cetaphil Daylong. A skin expert from Daylong was consulted to help put this article together.
Parents, how do you protect your children from the sun? Do your children use sunscreen when they are out in the sun too? We’d love to hear your thoughts!