As few as 7-10% of young Thai children are given sunscreen, and according to Professor Siriwan Wananukul it is never too soon to apply such protective lotions on children. Spending a day in the sunshine with your child is one of life’s most simple and joyful experiences, but having fun and keeping your family safe go hand and hand.
The incidence of skin cancer has increased sharply worldwide. More awareness is needed, including in Thailand, about the risks of excessive sun exposure and how to prevent skin cancer. For Asians, skin cancer accounts for 2% to 4% of all cancers, but what is less widely known is that skin cancer is the most preventable of cancers.
Making sunscreen a habit
No matter how your child reacts to sunscreen application, it’s best to make it a habit for kids ages 6 months and up. These days, parents have lots of choices; in addition to lotions, sunscreen comes in stick and spray forms. It’s best to use a high SPF (30+), water-resistant and broad spectrum type, which will protect against harmful UVA and UVB rays. Also, choose a more natural mineral-based formulation, made of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, to deflect the sun’s rays. Also, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends seeking shade between 10am and 4pm, and having your child wear long sleeved clothes, a hat and sunglasses.
Knowing your skin
The skin is the largest organ, so changes in the skin should be taken seriously. Healthy skin indicates healthy bodies, so changes to your skin can show the state of your internal health. Taking good care of the skin starts with identifying your skin type, and then regularly monitoring your skin. Changes in skin can indicate other illnesses, so becoming familiar with what is your skin’s normal versus any changes will help you and your family’s skin.
Stepping up awareness
Public awareness appears to be on the rise, as, according to Mintel, Thailand’s sun care market experienced a boom in sales. There was an 18.4% increase in 2017, and Mintel predicts it will reach THB6.5bn by 2020. This growth in sales is attributed to increased consumer awareness about sun safety, which suggests the beginning of a shift in mindset.
Even as awareness of sun safety is stepped up, enjoyment of being in the sun will never fade. In Thailand where the sun shines all year round, it is important to follow the guidelines for sun safe behaviour, If habits such as sunscreen use and avoidance of the sun’s peak hours are integrated into daily life then you can enjoy spending time outdoors with your children, with fewer risks of long term damage to the skin.