Whether you are going on a self catering holiday to Greece or spending your summer holidays in the UK, protecting your family from the sun is one of the most essential parts of proper skin care.
Some of our readers may remember that as recently as the 1970s and 1980s, we were largely unaware of the dangers that excessive exposure to the sun can create. You may even have memories of baking in the sun, smeared with baby oil, and even using sheets of aluminium foil to direct the rays of the sun onto your skin to deepen and intensify your tan. Despite a greater understanding of the connection between the sun and skin cancer, according to a quick Google search on the subject, some people are still choosing to fry their skin using the “foil and oil” method.
Excessive exposure to the sun – whether it is from relaxing on a sandy beach during your vacation or mowing the lawn in your back garden – can have devastating effects on the skin. Premature ageing, rough and dry patches, wrinkles and freckles can all be looked forward to by those who don’t use sunscreen or take proper precautions, not to mention the proven link with skin cancer…
Of course, the best way to protect your skin from the sun is not to tan, but, lets face it, who wants to come back from their holiday without a bit of healthy colour? Bear the following rules in mind when you are on your summer break, and protect yourself and your family.
While a small amount of exposure to the sun is good for us (a reaction of the sunlight on our skin produces Vitamin D for the body to use), everyone in your family should be applying sunscreen frequently.
A waterproof skin protection cream with a minimum of Factor 25 has been suggested as a starting point, although parents may choose to use a total sunblock on kids. There are many, many different brands and formulas of sun protection available, from coloured and scented products aimed at encouraging children to apply their cream, to organic based lotions which are ideal for those who prefer not to use chemical based creams on their skin.
Sun protection cream needs to be applied to clean, dry skin 30 minutes before exposure to the sun in order to work properly. One mistake that people tend to make with sunscreen is to apply it sparingly – experts say we should be lathering it on liberally and rubbing it in well.
Throughout the day, especially after swimming or sweating heavily, reapply your sunscreen as it can rub off and lose it’s effectiveness.
An cover up clothing such as hats, long sleeved tops and trousers can all help prevent sun burn. It is important to remember that if you can see through a garment when you hold it up to the light, the sun can get through! You should also consider investing in sunglasses which offer high UV protection. Wrap around styles are considered to be the best as they offer the most protection.
Ever heard the saying “mad dogs and English men go out in the midday sun”? This is a good one to bear in mind when you are on holiday and facing scorching temperatures on a daily basis. Take a hint from locals (and sensible dogs!) by staying in the shade throughout the hottest time of the day, usually between 10am – 4pm.
Sunburn and Sunstroke
If you, or a family member gets sunburnt, it is important to get them out of the sun right away – in addition to skin damage, sunburn can lead to a condition known as sunstroke. Focus on cooling the sunburn sufferer down and rehydrating them – think cool(but not cold) showers and lots of water to drink. Pain killers can be given to soothe the sting and it is beneficial to apply an aloe vera gel to assist healing.
Sunstroke is an extremely dangerous condition which can cause rapid deterioration and is the cause of unnecessary deaths every year. Symptoms include cramps, sweating, headache and rapid, weak breathing and pulse rate . Should you suspect that someone has the symptoms of sunstroke, seek medical attention immediately for treatment.