I'm writing this article in Lanzarote where I'm on holiday with 22-month-old Evie and each time we come away (fourth time now) I can feel the anxiety rising - thinking are we doing the right thing? Will we survive the plane journey? How am I going to keep her safe in the sun?....
I'll explain: The short story is, I was diagnosed with melanoma five years ago (just reached my five year milestone) and sadly I've learnt the hard way about the effects of too much sun.
So here a few tips to keep safe and be one step ahead...
DON'T allow yourself or your little one to burn. Burning just TWICE as a child before the age of 18 means abnormal cells could be implanted - which could possibly lead to skin cancer later in life. BURNING changes the DNA of your skin - and the more you burn throughout life - the risk of skin cancer is greatly increased.... and worse - melanoma.
DON'T think 'Oh I'll be ok. I'll put my sunscreen on later! The sun isn't even out' The sun can catch you out at any time! It's vital to put your cream on at least 20 minutes before going into the sun as it then creates the necessary barrier. Everyone has a different BURNING THRESHOLD - so it's vital to cover up BEFORE the burning starts.
DON'T use old sun creams from the previous year. Most of us can't remember when we opened the bottle and even if there's still half left - the UV filters may have decreased and may not be giving you the expected protection. On the back of the bottle there's a little symbol which usually shows 12 months. That's EXACTLY what it means - a shelf life of 12 months. Things like leaving your cream lying out in the sun/then back to an air conditioned room - all changes the consistency of the cream. Best thing is to write the date on the bottle and then you know when the 12 months is up. Or just find the nearest bin
Its not just sunscreen that protects us...
DO use long sleeve clothing - The all-in-one UPF50 suits are fantastic for little ones (but remember to put cream on their legs and arms because the suits are not full length!)
DO use hats (hats are vital for protecting our heads)
DO use sun glasses
DO use at least factor 30 - preferably Factor 50 (you'll still get a tan)
DO apply your sunscreen every 2-3hrs to keep that barrier going
DO put cream on your ears/backs of ears/back of neck/tip of nose/hands and feet
For a pram - DO use a SNOOZESHADE - that's been one of my best buys!
DO stay in the shade or indoors during the midday sun
These are just some simple precautionary measures which I hope you don't mind me sharing.
Remember prevention is always better than cure! The effects of sunburn are irreversible.
Once the damage is done. It's done. But hopefully having the information and the knowledge helps people to make an informed choice. (Dont get me started on sunbeds!)
I personally use www.solbari.com clothing and it's fantastic. It's UPF50 clothing and again I know I'm safe.
So we've had a REALLY lovely time here!! I completely relaxed when we got here, once I knew the shade spots and that actually Evie is more than happy drawing and colouring in the apartment. In answer to my other two fears - we survived the four hr plane journey here. One thing babies and toddlers do - is adapt! And I'm definitely keeping her safe in the sun with all my precautionary measures.
I'm also an ambassador of the charity SKCIN and they have a an accredited SUN SAFE schools programme. More than 4500 nurseries and primary schools are signed up. Find out if your child's school is?.... if not - ask them to sign up! They have a duty to protect your children in the sun.
RESULT = A HAPPY SUN SAFE HOLIDAY for Evie, mummy and daddy and grandad!
Written by Laura May Mcmullen
Laura is a journalist with the BBC, (you'll recognise her face from the telly if you live in the Midlands) she's mum to Evie-May, and an ambassador for Skcin