Warnings about the ongoing thinning of the ozone layer have long been resounding in the ears of inhabitants in the southern hemisphere. It is only in recent years however that this has become a global problem - as the hole in the ozone layer has grown resulting in increases in UV radiation.
Why does this matter?
It matters because the ozone layer protects the Earth from the harmful effects of the Sun's ultraviolet radiation, which contributes to skin cancer and cataracts in people. The United Nations environment programme estimates that for every 1% thinning of the ozone layer there is a 2-3% increase in skin cancer.
Playing outside in the fresh air is a vital part of growing up and for most children, 23 percent of their lifetime exposure to the sun will happen before the age of 18. Consequently, it has become vital to protect children's skin from the potentially lethal effects of the sun and children's UV protection habits should become as routine as brushing their teeth.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in South Africa
Skin cancer is very common in white populations worldwide, and is the highest rated type of cancer in South Africa. Because the sun causes most skin cancers, it has been estimated that at least 75 % could be prevented by adequate skin protection in childhood alone.
While appropriate SPF sun creams are indispensable to protecting delicate skins from sunburn, there are downsides. No matter how good the cream, its effectiveness is only as good as its application. In other words, there is no guarantee that all relevant body parts get their fair share - and even the best sun creams wear off.