What is the best form of sun protection?

Sun protection
Children and adults with CMN can and should enjoy a normal life. They should have very good sun protection but the same as would be recommend for all children and adults. As a general rule sun avoidance, coupled with good clothing protection, are more important than suncream.

Sun avoidance
Children should be kept out of direct sun as much as possible during the hottest hours of the day in the hottest months of the year, for example in the shade. The hottest hours of the day are 10am-4pm, inclusive, and the hottest months of the year are April to October, inclusive. Outside these times there is usually no need for sun protection in the UK.

Good clothing protection
Sun hats with a brim that covers ears and the back of the neck as well as the face are ideal, as are longer sleeved tops and longer shorts/skirt.

Suncream is not a substitute for sun avoidance and good clothing protection. It should, however, be used as extra protection if the child has to be in direct sun during hot periods for areas that are not protected by clothes. The best sunscreens contain a reflectant barrier such as titanium dioxide; select a high protection factor (SPF), ideally 30 or more (or 50 or more for babies), and with high UVA protection (5 stars, usually on the back of the bottle).  Sunscreen needs to be refreshed every 2 hours or so, more often when swimming or sweating.

Other important points to remember

  • UV exposure is much higher when beside water or snow, so special care should be taken when swimming outside or skiing.
  • The sun is more harmful at higher altitudes.
  • The sun remains almost as harmful when it is cloudy, so even if the day is cloudy the child should wear appropriate clothing such as sunhat during the hottest times of the year.
  • Shade provides less protection when near water or snow or when the weather is cloudy.
  • The increased risk of skin cancer in children with CMN probably applies to their whole body, not just on their CMN.
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