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26 June 2017, 11:13 | Updated: 26 June 2017, 13:16
The June heatwave has led to a rise in the number of babies and children being referred to the Queen Victoria Hospital’s specialist children’s burns unit.
This month alone the hospital has treated 13 children as young as one month old with severe sunburn, and 18 children with burns resulting from barbeques, all of whom needed specialist treatment.
With temperatures set to remain high in the South East for a few more days yet,
Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Nora Nugent from the Queen Victoria Hospital, said: “No parent intends for their child to get sunburnt and accidents do happen. On hot sunny days, sunburn can happen very quickly even when you’re not outside very long. We encourage those looking after children to spend a few minutes applying sunscreen before they go out in the sun and to remember to reapply the sunscreen regularly.
“Our team has also seen an unexpectedly high number of children referred because of BBQ related burns. Whilst everyone loves eating outside when the sun is shining, please do take extra precautions and keep children away from barbeques even after you have finished cooking as they remain hot. Most of these injuries occurred while children were playing in the area beside the barbeque which was either in use or had not cooled down after use.
“If a child, or an adult, does sustain a burn, we advise that you start the treatment process immediately by running the affected area under cool water for at least 20 minutes. Then if additional medical help is needed call 111, your GP, or 999.”
As well as being a specialist burns centre for the South East of England, the Queen Victoria Hospital is a specialist skin cancer centre and its consultants are all too aware of the damage the sun can cause.
They encourage the public to follow this advice to keep children (as well as adults) safe during the summer:
• Use a sunscreen that is at least factor 30 and has a four- or five-star UVB rating.
• Sunscreen should be applied to areas not protected by clothing, such as the face, ears, feet and backs of hands before going out in the sun.
• Children should have sunscreen reapplied regularly, especially if they have been in water.
• Children should spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm, under umbrellas, trees, canopies or indoors.
• Wearing a wide brimmed hat will shade a child’s head, face and neck.
• Babies under six months should be kept out of direct sunlight, especially during the hottest part of the day.
• Take care on cloudy days too, as sun exposure will still occur.
• Be careful of barbeques – keep small children away from where food is being cooked, and also afterwards whilst it cools down.