Dress your child in layers of loose-fitting clothes made of natural fibres so they can shed a layer if they get too hot and add when they get chilly. If your little one is in a buggy, use a proper sun -resistant shade that will block the sun and allow air to circulate. Make sure they wear a wide-brimmed sun hat to protect their face, ears and neck. Lead by example by wearing one yourself. Invest in some wraparound sunglasses that meet UV safety standards to protect their eyes from exposure.
In hot weather, it’s important to encourage your children to drink plenty of water and try to limit sun exposure between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its hottest. Make it easy for them to take plenty of breaks in the shade by engaging them in quieter activities in between running around, to avoid heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion can come on suddenly and unexpectedly, with signs that can include feeling sick, dizzy, or having a headache. Bringing them into a cool room and encouraging frequent sips of water will help them to recover.
The sun’s UV rays can very quickly damage a child’s skin, even on a cloudy day. Sunburn can happen in less than 15 minutes, even though the redness might not appear until later. Babies under six months should never be exposed to direct sunlight, while infants under three years should always wear SPF 50. Older children should wear a minimum SPF of 30 and all sunscreen should have a minimum 4-star UVA protection rating or display the EC guidelines logo with the letters UVA enclosed within a circle.
Get your children involved in applying their sunscreen so that you teach them good habits for life. Always apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going out in the sun and make sure to cover the high risk areas of shoulders, neck, ears, nose, and feet. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, even if the product claims it offers longer protection. All SPF and UVA testing is done in a laboratory – sweat, sand and water will compromise its effectiveness, while up to 85% of product can be removed by towel drying.
If your child does get sunburned, cool the affected area for at least 10 minutes under cool water or use cool wet towels. When the affected area has been completely cooled, apply Aloe Vera gel to soothe the burn, reduce swelling and promote healing. Make sure your child stays hydrated and give them some paracetamol or ibuprofen for any pain.
Stings And Burns
Most bee and wasp stings are mild and will go down in a couple of days. However, a small minority of children will be allergic to the venom and can suffer a severe allergic reaction as a result.
Wasp stings don’t leave a stinger behind, but if your child suffers a bee sting, remove the stinger as soon as possible to reduce the impact of the venom. Use your finger nails or tweezers to pull the stinger out. Gently wash the area with soapy water to remove all traces of the venom and use an icepack or cold compress to reduce inflammation and pain. Give your child paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve any residual pain. You can also use an antihistamine cream or oral medicine to help with any itch, pain and inflammation.
Seek medical advice from your doctor if your child is stung in the mouth, or if they show signs of an allergic reaction such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips, tongue or face, or are otherwise feeling unwell.
If a member of your family sustains a burn from the barbecue, you should remove any clothing from the burn area and treat it with cool running water for exactly 20 minutes. Then cover the burn area with cling film and seek advice from your doctor. Do not use soothing creams on a burn as they may make it worse.
Laura Erskine is a Parenting Expert with BabyDoc Club online parenting community and mum of three to James, 11, Lucy, 8, and Poppy, 16 months.
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