Protecting any redhead’s pale skin from the sun is a year-round job, and for children, this is all the more important. Young skin is particularly at risk of sun damage, as they have much less melanin (skin pigment) than adults. And, bearing in mind that redheads have hardly any melanin in their skin anyway, little redheads are all the more vulnerable.
Considering the importance of sun protection for children with red hair, we’ve teamed up with The British Skin Foundation to offer sun protection advice to little redheads and parents of ginger children.
Here are some key sun protection tips and advice:
- When looking for a suitable sunscreen, make sure it protects against UVA and UVB light with a minimum of SPF 30
- Seek shade between 11am-3pm, when the sun is at its hottest
- In addition to applying sunscreen, dress your child in lightweight protective clothing covering their arms and legs
- Protect their head, neck and ears with a wide-brimmed hat
- Protect the delicate eye area with UV-protect sunglasses
- For babies, use a pram with a canopy or cover – babies aged under six months shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight at all
What if my ginger child gets sunburnt?
If you notice that your little redhead’s skin has turned pink, immediately cover the affected skin with loose clothing or get your little redhead in the shade straight away.
Apply a cool compress to the skin for around 15 minutes, such as a cold, damp towel, or give your child a cool bath or shower with water just below luke-warm temperature. If blisters start to develop, a bath is preferable in this case. Gently pat the skin dry.
Next, moisturise the skin with an unperfumed cream or lotion to help soothe the skin and reduce peeling, repeating this several times a day. Aloe vera or soy-containing gels or lotions are least likely to irritate your child’s skin, with the added bonus that aloe vera is also an anti-inflammatory to help with the heeling process. Beware of any products containing petroleum, benzocaine or lidocaine as these can trap heat under the skin.
An effect of sunburn is fluid loss, so make sure your child stays adequately hydrated following a sunburn. If the skin is blistered, discourage your child from touching or popping it, as this can lead to infection and scarring.
If your child is aged under 12 months and has sunburn, you should seek medical attention immediately as there is a risk of becoming severely unwell.
For more information on skin cancer and sun safety tips, visit ittakesseven.org.uk/skin-cancer-facts
The British Skin Foundation is the only UK charity dedicated to raising funds for skin disease and skin cancer research. Since 1996 the charity has raised £15 million to fund research projects.