Sun Smart Kids: 5 Tips For A Sun Safe Summer

Sun Smart Kids: 5 Tips For A Sun Safe Summer

Daniel Kadouch works as a dermatologist and skin cancer expert (MD PhD) at Centrum Oosterwal in Alkmaar, the Netherlands. In addition to his work as a dermatologist, Daniel is a father of three young children. He understands better than anyone the challenges parents face aiming to protect their young children from sun damage. Here are five simple tips to enjoy a sun safe summer with your kids.

1. Avoid a sunburn at all times

Did you know that being sunburnt five or more times, especially during childhood doubles your risk of skin cancer later in life? However, sun damage is not always clearly visible. Did you know that DNA damage occurs when you develop a tan? A sun-tanned skin is in fact also a sun-damaged skin…

2. UV protective clothing

Most parents rely only on sunscreen to protect their children, applying it once and in too small amounts. In order to be completely effective, sunscreen should cover be generously reapplied every two hours and after every swim. That’s quite a task when you have excited kids raring to go and enjoy a long day by the water.  Children are particularly vulnerable to sun damage because the pigment cells in their skin are not yet fully developed. The good news is that special UV protective clothing is becoming a new trend among young parents today. Look for UV protective clothing with a high UPF (Ultraviolet Protecting Factor). UPF 50+ offers the most protection and reflects 98% of the UV-B and UV-A rays. This is especially useful for days at the beach or at the pool.

3. Avoid peak hours in the sun

The UV rays are strongest in the Netherlands between 12 noon and 3 pm. There are several Apps that can inform you on your local UV rates.  It is best to avoid the sun during these peak times. Did you know that the shade does not offer complete protection from the reflection of UV radiation? So plan your family trip early in the morning or in the afternoon on hot summer days.

4. Sunscreen

Sunscreen is needed for the remaining sun exposed skin. Choose a sunscreen with SPF 50 and that covers both UV-B and UV-A rays. Make sure to apply sunscreen every two hours and again after swimming and sports (sweating). When you plan to use sunscreen while swimming in the sea, pay attention to products with chemical UV- Filters contain harmful chemicals (3 O’s= Oxybenzon, Octinoxat, Octocrylene) which are toxic for the marine ecosystems and corals.  Physical (also called mineral) sunscreens that contain non-nano Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are not only better for your skin but also for the environment, however they leave more of a white layer on the skin.

5. Lead by example

Set a good example and prevent your own skin from burning and always examine your skin carefully. Fortunately, skin cancer in children is very rare, but it is good to keep an eye on both your own skin and the skin of your children. Look for spots that don’t heal properly or a mole that changes. If you see a suspicious spot, do not wait and always contact your doctor or dermatologist immediately. Early detection is key. Learn in this video how you can use the ABCDE method to check your skin or the skin of your children.

 These 5 sun smart tips for kids are written by Dr. Daniel Kadouch for Spot the Dot, March 2021.

In 2020 Daniel launched Tenue de Soleil. Tenue de Soleil creates stylish UV-protective swimwear for active children, made from regenerated nylon supporting clean oceans. Their swimwear offers full UPF50+ coverage so you can worry less about burnt shoulders and more about where the next round of ice creams are coming from.