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Mum’s warning after kids suffer severe sunburn through t-shirts and SPF 50 suncream on Gran Canaria holiday


A mum has issued a warning to parents after her two children suffered severe sunburn on holiday – despite wearing factor 50 suncream and t-shirts. Carlien Pretorius says the ‘agonising’ ordeal ruined the family’s two-week trip to Gran Canaria.

The mum-of-two, from Newport, Wales, applied a suncream she had bought from a shop on the island labelled “parafarmacia”, but she soon noticed Joshua, 11, and Luke, nine, had started to burn, WalesOnline reports. “The boys burnt from just being in the swimming pool despite having full 50+ sunscreen on and T-shirts,” Carlien said.

“The sun cream I bought was from the pharmacy. Shocking really. I believe there must be something wrong with it, maybe it’s out of date, or it could be the wrong sun cream for their ages. Both of them were in a lot of pain and I had to give them Calpol regularly which I thankfully had brought with me from the UK. Joshua especially was in absolute agony.”

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Carlien said the burns became so bad that she took her sons back to the same shop she bought the cream from and they gave her an ointment to put on the skin. In total, the mum says she spent €110. However, the cream she was given “made it way worse” and the family eventually decided to go to a public doctor’s surgery for some free advice.

Carlien said she blames the ordeal on the shop which sold her the sun cream, as well as global warming, which she believes made the island “much hotter than it was when we came here eight years ago”. She said she also blames herself for “not being able to protect my kids from this horrible thing happening to them”.



Luke’s burns which he got even though he had factor 50 on as well as a T-shirt

“I was really worried,” Carlien admitted. “I secretly cried with worry while they were sleeping. I am still worried it will cause permanent scarring.”

Carlien described the holiday as “disastrous” and said the family had to spend “five or six days of our two-week annual holiday in a hot apartment with nothing to do”. She added: “We couldn’t go swimming or go out because I desperately needed to keep them out of the sun.”



The mum is worried Joshua may suffer permanent scarring from the burns

Joshua and Luke are still recovering from their burns, even a week after the initial incident, Carlien said. “When the skin is wet you can see how very thin it still is and how far it still has to go for complete healing,” she explained.

“I’m so grateful to the public doctors for the free advice from our EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) cards,” she said. “We will always remember this holiday disaster and probably be reminded of it for the rest of our lives through the possible scarring.”



Joshua’s skin a week on from the sunburn – Carlien says his skin is still very damaged

After spending a large proportion of their holiday flicking through Spanish TV channels in their hotel room, Carlien said she feels she needs to offer advice to others planning on going abroad to a hot climate. She said: “My advice would be; take your sunscreen with you from the UK, take Calpol for the kids and all other meds from the UK, stay out of the sun between 12pm and 4pm, take your EHIC cards when holidaying abroad, and double check all advice – even the small print on products – when in a foreign country.”

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