29 October 2010

Sun-safe programme for kids

Slapping it on, soaking it up and being safe under the African sun is fast becoming a happy reality for an estimated 60,000 pre-schoolers.

Slapping it on, soaking it up and being safe under the African sun is fast becoming a happy reality for an estimated 60,000 pre-schoolers as sun care manufacturer, Everysun, continues its national roll-out of sunscreen dispensers and sun-safe education programme tailor-made for three to six year olds to co-incide with the onset of summer.

High rates of skin cancer

  • Ultra Violet (UV) radiation is one of the major creators of free radicals during sun exposure. We often under estimate the detrimental effects that free radicals have on the skin. They cause wrinkles by activating thematrix metalloproteinase (MMPs) that break down collagen. Free radicals attack cell membranes, lipids, proteins and all types of cells. They can cause cancer by changing the genetic material, RNA and DNA of the cell. It is for this reason that progressive sun protection manufacturers are developing products with effective amounts of antioxidants.
  • A sun-safe sunscreen for pre-schoolers should contain at least a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 20 to provide the necessary protection for a one hour unit of sun exposure.
  • A single sunscreen application cannot provide daylong protection. All sunscreen should be reapplied at least every hour or after swimming and towelling. Areas that need special protection in young children are the face, ears, nose, neck and arms.
  • Traditional sunscreens contain only UVB filters. The new trend is to include high levels of stable UVA filters. An effective sunscreen should protect against both UVA rays that could cause cellular damage and UVB rays that are responsible for sunburn.
  • The SPF system quantifies the time that a sunscreen offers the user protection against burning. This depends on both the skin type - your individual minimal erythema dose (MED) -  and the Safe Sun Time (SST). The SST is area specific and depends on the measured UV concentration at a given period. For example 10 minutes in Cape Town between November and March would translate to an SPF of 10 increasing the SST to 10 minutes x 10 SPF = 100 minutes (just under 2 hours).
  • Usage of sunscreen and Vitamin D deficiency are not directly correlated. The main source of Vitamin D comes from food. An area of 10cm squared or the size of the back of one’s hand exposed to the sun for 10 minutes produces sufficient amounts of Vitamin D.
  • Dark skins are not as susceptible to sunburn but sun exposure without a SPF sunscreen of 20 stimulates uneven pigmentation that is difficult to reverse as well as increased darkening.


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