Researchers from the United Kingdom found that most parents believe having a sun tan is a sign of good health for their children, but evidence from a new study shows otherwise. In fact, a sun tan is a sign of damaged skin, not healthy-looking skin.
Having A Sun Tan Is Not Healthy
The new study, which was released by the Met Office in cooperation with the #CoverUpMate skin campaign of NHS England, revealed that most parents have an alarmingly carefree attitude toward sun care among their children.
Scientists conducted the study on 1,000 parents of children 11 years old and below, and they found that one in 14 parents or about 7 percent admit that they have never used sunscreen on their kids.
The fact that sun tans are a result of skin damage caused by UV rays is understood by 47 percent of the respondents, while more than a third of respondents or 37 percent incorrectly believe that sun tans are a sign of good health.
About 25 percent of parents have admitted that they encourage their kids to get a sun tan one way or another, while 10 percent of parents of kids aged 2 to 7 years old said they have urged them to sunbathe.
Even more alarming, 7 percent of parents with kids aged 6 to 11 years old have permitted their kids to use a sunbed. Lastly, 10 percent of respondents with kids aged 11 and below said they have told their children to remove their tops off in the sunshine to avoid getting tan lines.
Although shocking, researchers explained that these figures mirror the lack of knowledge among parents on the damage that the sun can inflict.
For instance, of the 1,000 respondents, 21 percent are not aware that a person is at most risk of UV rays during May and September; 7 percent do not know that UV rays have strong links to skin cancer; 46 percent wrongly believe that one can feel UV rays when the sun is strong; and 15 percent are unaware that a person can be exposed to UV rays even on cloudy or cool days.
How To Take Care Of Your Child's Skin
It's very easy to get sunburnt because UV rays cannot be felt, even when it's not particularly warm. Researchers said that because kids have more sensitive skins than adults, parents should take care of their children's skin.
First, from March to October, kids should be covered up with suitable clothing. Second, kids should spend more time in the shade during 11:00 a.m. to 03:00 p.m. Third, kids should wear at least SPF15 sunscreen.
Nina Goad from the British Association of Dermatologists said the highlight of the study is that sun tanning and sunburn are both signs of skin damage.
"This doesn't mean that children shouldn't go outside and play, just that basic precautions are taken when it's sunny," said Goad.