By Sophia Seen
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the increase in incidence of skin cancer is correlated to an increased exposure to the sun, with 80% of skin cancer cases being preventable.
Overexposure to sunlight and UV rays also affect the eye and immune system. Therefore, precautions should be taken to reduce exposure to harmful UV rays, especially when you are swimming outdoors.
Knowing what the ratings in sun protective apparel mean:
Photo credit: Jim Miller/aeoink.com
Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) is a rating system used for garments similar to Sun Protection Factor (SPF) - the rating system that is used for sunscreen products.
UPF indicates the effectiveness of fabrics in shielding skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays. The higher UPF number, the greater degree of UV protection offered by the apparel. A UPF rating of 15 implies that the apparel is good at UV protection and a UPF rating of 50+ (99+% of UV radiation blocked) is regarded as excellent.
Can't we just use sunscreen?
Sun protective swimwear is a viable option especially for children who tend to be more sensitive to the sun and sunscreens. Because sunscreen tends to wear out and has to be reapplied frequently, it is not a permanent option.
Here are 3 types of swimming gear that will help protect swimmers from UV rays.
1. Konfidence wetsuits ( 0- 7 years)
Konfidence carries a range of wetsuits targeted for babies and children from 0 months to 7 years. These wetsuits provide 50+ UPF. Konfidence also claims that their wetsuits can help keep children warm when they are swimming.
2. Ocean Paradise (1 - 16 years)
Ocean Paradise first introduced sun protective swimwear into the Singapore market 15 years ago. They carry a range of labels that offer sun protective swimwear with a minimum of 50+ UPF.
The brands include O’Neill, Snapper Rock, Platypus and Stingray. The swimming attire available are suitable for children between 1 to 16 years.
3. EcoStinger (All ages)
EcoStinger offers swimwear with sun protection for swimmers of all ages with sizes ranging from 2 for children up to size 3 XL for adults. The swimwear from EcoStinger carry ratings of 50+ UPF.
Sunscreen or sun protective swim wear?
Sun protective swim wear should be seen as a complement to sun screen and not a replacement. As effective as it is in providing protection from UV rays, sun protective swim wear does not cover the entire skin surface. There will still be areas of skin exposed to the sun ,so sunscreen should be applied to these areas.
Note that UV rays from the sun are strongest from 10am to 4pm. So it would also be advisable to reduce exposure to UV rays by simply not partaking in swimming activities during this period of time.
To receive the latest updates on the happenings in the Singapore sports scene, or to find out more about some of the latest programmes on offer at ActiveSG, like our Facebook page here.