Experts have been firm on their sun-safe guidelines for babies.
This is the warning that the Australasian College of Dermatologists and Cancer Council released in their updated guidelines on sunscreen and sun protection for babies – it is not a suit of armour.
The guidelines followed after a recent study showed that 85% of people apply sunscreen incorrectly, which makes them and their loved ones at risk of sun damage.
Dr Andrew Miller, president of the ACD, said that some people either do not use sunscreen properly or they rely on it fully to protect themselves from the sun. “There is a lack of understanding about the proper use of sunscreen and an over-reliance on this as the principal form of sun protection,” he said.
He added that the idea of “slip slop slap” when putting sunscreen is not enough. There are two more crucial steps that people should take.
“To be properly protected from UV, all five forms of sun protection should be used: slip on clothing, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade and slide on sunglasses,” Dr Miller says.
Heather Walker, Chair of Cancer Council Australia’s National Skin Cancer Committee, agreed and said that people should not see sunscreen as the all end all-in sun protection. “It is important to never rely on sunscreen to protect the skin,” she said. “Cancer Council recommends using a water-resistant, broad-spectrum, SPF 30+ or higher sunscreen and other forms of sun protection.”
Experts recommend doing the following for adequate sun protection.
- Applying at least 20 minutes before going outside
- Using an adequate amount at least one teaspoon for each arm and leg, front and back of the torso and face (including neck and ears). This is a total of seven teaspoons (at least 35 ml of sunscreen) for an adult’s full body application.
- Re-applying after swimming, sweating or towel drying, and/or every two hours regardless of what the label says.
They added that for babies under 12 months, they are recommended to be kept away from direct sunlight when the UV hits three or above. (Check the UV in your local area here at the Cancer Council or here at the Bureau of Meteorology.)
Babies should also be dressed in clothing that covers their bodies as much as possible, should wear a broad-brimmed hat or kept in the shade.
Sunscreen is also generally not recommended for bubs under six months.
“By using a combination of sun protection measures, Australians can take positive steps to reduce their risk of skin cancer and still enjoy our summer holiday period,” says Dr Miller. “Being Sun Smart means being clever in planning for activities in the sun. Don’t forget to look after yourself and your family by using all five sun protection methods.”