A mum has issued a warning to other parents to check the UV ratings on their children’s sunscreen and not just the factor.
For most parents, event the slightest hint of a sunny day signals the cue to plaster the kids in factor 50 suncream.
We all know the dangers of sun exposure after all and how sun burn in childhood can lead to an increased risk of developing skin cancer in later life.
Sharing an informative post to Facebook, the mum, posting under ‘The Bristol Parent’ explains that merely covering children in factor 50 might not be offering them the best sun protection.
Instead of just relying on the factor they are using, parents should also be looking at the star rating on the bottle which relates to its UV protection.
“I learned the maddest thing about suncream this week,” she writes.
“UVB causes the burning, UVA causes the cancer. All good suncream has a UVA star rating from 1-5. The star rating shows you how much UVA it’s blocking relative to how much UVB. So a factor 50 with a two star rating is less effective against the sun’s danger than a 20 factor with 5 stars.”
She goes on to point out that very often it is the cheaper own brand creams that have the better star rating.
“Check out the below examples of Tesco and Ambre Solaire. Word is that Morrisons and Wilkos own creams are all 5 star. The Ambre Solaire was a tenner. The Tesco three quid,” she explains before urging other parents to pass the message on.
The mum’s warning comes after another mum, Carly King, who is a childminder, posted a similar post explaining that she’d noticed that children were still tanning and burning whilst wearing factor 50 suncream.
“It isn’t all to do with the factor, there is another rating that you need to consider when buying cream, and if that is low, ultraviolet light can get through and damage the skin,” she wrote in the post.
“UVA (Ultra Violet A) protection is key to keeping out the harmful radiation. (The stars you see on the bottle) SPF (sun protection factors) is the measurement of protection against UVB.”
The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) has provided some advice for parents about staying sun-safe this summer.
Why should parents use sun protection?
Sunburn in childhood has been strongly linked to the development of skin cancer in later years.
According to the BAD more than 100,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually in the UK, and extensive sun exposure is thought to be responsible for the vast majority of cases.
In more than four out of five cases skin cancer is a preventable disease.
What is SPF?
‘SPF’ stands for ‘sun protection factor’, although the SPF is more accurately the sun burn protection factor, as it primarily shows the level of protection against UVB, not the protection against UVA.
SPFs are rated on a scale of 2-50+ based on the level of protection they offer.
The BAD recommend a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 as a satisfactory form of sun protection in addition to protective shade and clothing.
UVA star system
When you currently buy sunscreen containing UVA protection in the UK you may notice a UVA star rating on the packaging.
The stars range from 0 to 5 and indicate the percentage of UVA radiation absorbed by the sunscreen in comparison to UVB, in other words the ratio between the level of protection afforded by the UVA protection and the UVB protection.
Be aware that if you choose a low SPF it may still have a high level of stars, not because it is providing lots of UVA protection, but because the ratio between the UVA and UVB protection is about the same.
It’s important to choose a high SPF as well as a high UVA protection (e.g. a high number of stars).
A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 and a UVA rating of 4 or 5 stars is generally considered as a good standard of sun protection in addition to shade and clothing.
Not knowing the difference between UVA and UVB isn’t the only sun protection mistake parents are making. From not applying often enough to thinking sun cream doesn’t have a sell by date, check out our expert-backed guide to staying sun safe.
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