UV protection: Clothing for children

Friends in Australia told us about clothes that have an ultraviolet protection rating. Does this apply to normal children's clothes?

Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:

Australia leads the world in sun protection. Australians also have the highest rate of skin cancer. Some clothes there carry a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating, but any clothing substantially reduces the sunlight that gets to the skin. Less UV radiation passes through tightly woven or knitted fabrics, and darker colours block more UV. Wet clothes let through more radiation, and loose clothes are better. Long sleeves and turned-up collars make a big difference. Cotton lets in more radiation than polyester, nylon and silk. A typical cotton T-shirt will have a UPF of about five; it lets through one-fifth of the sun's radiation, cutting out 80 per cent.

Please mail your questions for Dr Fred to health@independent.co.uk. He regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.