Parents using wrong sunscreens on kidsExperts warn children are at risk of skin cancer

08 May 2008

Parents' confusion over sun protection is putting their children's health at risk, skin experts have warned.

A survey reveals that more than a third of British parents buy sunscreens with a sun factor lower than SPF30, which is the recommended level for children.

This is despite the fact that children in the UK have the highest rates of skin cancers in any European country.

Sun awareness

The warning to cover up comes from the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) to mark Sun Awareness Week.

Nina Goad of BAD said: ‘On the rare occasions that we do get good weather, of course we want to make the most of it – however, often we forget that we need to protect ourselves in the sun and this is especially true for children whose skin is more sensitive to UV light.

‘Sunburn as a child can as much as double the chances of skin cancer later in life, so kids need to be protected with sunscreen, clothing and shade when spending time outdoors on sunny days.’

Sun protection

The poll, by the British Skin Foundation, also found that a quarter of parents don't think it necessary to apply sun protection to their children before they go to school in the summer months.

Another recent study, published by the European Journal of Cancer, showed the UK has the highest skin cancer rates for children aged up to 14, and teenagers, aged 15 to 19.

The younger you are, the higher your risk of developing skin cancer if you're over-exposed to the sun or to sunbeds.

Which? findings

But last month, Which? research revealed that 170,000 under-16s, some as young as eight years old, are using sunbeds.

As we published our findings, the Health and Safety Executive called for a ban on under-18s using them.