The sun is the leading cause of skin cancer, the incidence of which has increased in recent years. All accumulated sun exposure during life, including childhood and adolescence, contributes to the development of skin cancer. The skin remembers every burn, tan, or effect of solar radiation received up to the present time.
Sun Protection So Important for Baby?
The greater part of the sun exposure of life is received during the first 18 years, because children spend more time outdoors in activities than most adults, especially in summer.
Protecting the baby’s and child’s skin from the sun’s rays not only prevents sunburn at the time of application of these protective measures but also helps prevent the appearance of more serious problems in the future.
In addition, during sun exposure children must be properly hydrated, so we have to offer those fluids, especially water, frequently. And you can also use sunscreen to protect your babies skin from sunburn.
Those Most Vulnerable To Skin Cancer
Children with one or more of the following characteristics are especially vulnerable to skin cancer:
- Those with white or very light skin (they burn easily and almost never get brown). These are usually blond or red-haired children.
- Those with a family history of skin cancer, especially melanoma, are at high risk for skin cancer.
- Children are subjected to very frequent sun exposure in the first years of life. A special indicator of risk is having suffered many sunburns of any kind during childhood, or at least two third-degree sunburns (with blisters).
- Those with “rare” or unusual-looking moles. Large moles or many freckles also carry a considerable risk of developing skin cancer throughout your life. Freckles indicate the existence of a high vulnerability to the damaging action of the sun.
False Myths and Beliefs
- “You can’t get burned on a cloudy day. ” This is false, as clouds attenuate UV radiation, but diffuse radiation is strong enough to burn you.
- “Children and adolescents are immune to solar radiation.” It is wrong to think that the sun harms only adults. Too much sun is always dangerous.
- “The use of filters and sun creams allows us to spend more time lying in the sun.” The use of sunscreen offers a wrong sense of security that has therefore a behavior of greater sun exposure.
- “If I don’t feel hot when I’m in the sun, I won’t get burned.” Ultraviolet radiation is not felt, although it reaches the non-superficial layers of the skin and exerts its undesirable effect.
- “Tanning is healthy and protects from solar radiation.” Tanning is a defense reaction of the skin against exposure to UV radiation and the aggression that it causes. Although it has a protective function, it only partially protects. Therefore, there is no such thing as the famous “healthy tan”.
- “The shade protects from the direct rays of the sun.” This is only half-true because you still have to protect yourself from diffuse radiation.
Types of Solar Filters
Sunscreens should be used in conjunction with physical protection measures (put in the shade, use umbrellas, a hat, clothing, and sunglasses). There are two types of filters:
- Chemical filters: act by absorbing ultraviolet radiation and preventing its penetration. They are organic and their spectrum is more limited than in physical filters.
- Physical filters, act by reflecting UV rays. In this way, skin penetration is prevented. They are the so-called mineral or inorganic screens, which have a high protective power. They are the most recommended in babies under six months or a year because they are very well tolerated and are not absorbed.
New organic molecules have recently been developed that combine the advantages of the two previous types. They are the so-called organic screens.
No sunscreen provides complete protection from the effect of UV rays. Some of the UVB rays reach the skin, even with the most effective sunscreen. Therefore, damage from solar radiation will occur if the time you receive solar radiation is long, even if the sunscreens are applied correctly. It is important to avoid direct sun exposure during the central hours of the day, between 12 and 16 hours.
Choosing The Type of Sunscreen
The industry offers us sunscreens in a wide range and assortment of different presentations creams, gels, alcoholic solutions, bars, lotions, milk, etc.
- Alcoholic solutions can sting when applied to a baby’s skin and have a greater drying effect than creams and milks, which generally include moisturizing agents. They would not be recommended in babies or children with atopic dermatitis or dry skin.
- Lotions and gels also have some drying effect, since they usually contain alcohol in their composition. These presentations may be most appropriate for adolescents with oily or acne-prone skin.
- Water-resistant presentations, not only for bathing activities but also for activities that can lead to profuse sweating (that is, in children, we will always choose them). These sunscreens are intended to last longer than normal sunscreens in these circumstances.
- Total screens with zinc can be used when it is necessary to completely block the penetration of radiation. You need to apply a thick, even coat to achieve this. It should be noted that they also block sweating and perspiration from the skin. For this reason, its regular use is reserved to protect small sensitive areas (such as the nose or the upper part of the ears). Used in this way, they are quite safe and effective. They are not recommended in children under six months of age because they are very irritating when in contact with the mucous membranes (eyes and mouth).
How Do You Apply Sunscreen?
The effectiveness of sunscreens depends on their correct application:
- They should be applied 30 minutes before leaving home. These substances do not act immediately; therefore, it is not correct to expose the child to the sun until 20 minutes after having applied the protector.
- Also on cloudy days.
- The usual frequency of renewal of sunscreens is every two hours. However, if the child is outdoors all day bathes frequently or plays in the water, renewal should be more frequent.
- They should spread out well. It is important to ensure that all exposed body areas are covered, especially the child’s face, feet, hands, as well as parts of the legs and arms not covered by clothing.
- Do not neglect the nose, lips and ears, but do not apply on the eyelids (this delicate part of the body will be protected with the hat and the use of glasses).
Sun Protection in Children under 3 Years
In young children, a high protection is recommended: 50+. Sunscreens that are labeled special for infants, babies, or young children actually have the same chemicals as those used in adult products and provide the same degree of protection as adult products. The only difference is that they are formulated with a softer base and are not scented.
In principle, sunscreens are considered safe products to use on babies. Under 6 months, blocking creams with zinc are not recommended, because they can be very irritating if they spread to the mouth or eyes.
Sun Protection for Children under 1 Year
Infants less than 6 months of age should not be exposed to direct sunlight light. At this age, protection measures against the sun should be taken to extremes since the skin of babies is thinner than that of adults and produces much less melanin. In addition, it is advisable to dress them in comfortable clothing, not excessively dark in color, loose and light. It should cover a good part of the body surface and be rather long. It is highly recommended to use hats with a wide rim that shadows the face and ears.
As for the photoprotector, a 50+ factor will be used, which will be applied to small areas of the body that are not covered by clothing (face and hands). In addition, in case of sunburn in children of this age, the pediatrician should always evaluate them.
In the central hours of the day, it is better that, they are covered and cool.
Protective Measures For Older Children
It is recommended to use sunscreen for children, preferably water resistant, as well as non-transparent clothing made of organic fabric, such as cotton, sunglasses, and hats.
What You Should Know
- The skin has a memory. it remembers every burn and effect of solar radiation since childhood.
- Prevention in childhood is vital to avoid skin cancer.
- It is important, to use the appropriate sunscreen along with other measures (clothing, cap, sunglasses, shade, hydration).