16 Dec Sun Protection for Your Infant
Protecting skin from UV damage can and should begin at birth. Spectrum Dermatology is available to help keep you and your newborn’s skin healthy and to minimize the odds of developing skin cancer. The best way to prevent skin cancer—which 20 percent of adults will be diagnosed with in their lifetime—is with proper sunscreen application at certain ages and by covering up. The best way to catch skin cancer early is with an annual skin check and there’s no minimum age for these yearly checks to begin.
Most adults today did not grow up in an era when our parents slathered sunscreen on us on a daily basis. Instead, it was reserved for days at the beach and tropical vacations. That may have helped prevent some additional painful burns, but sunscreen needs to be applied any time a person is exposed to UV rays. This includes rainy days, cloudy days, winter months, and even brief periods of time (such as running out to check the mail). Sun damage is largely a collective experience, meaning that every little second and minute spent in the sun adds up over time. Studies have shown that the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma, typically does occur in those with a history of severe sun burns. However, there are other forms of skin cancer and melanoma has certainly been diagnosed in those who don’t have a history of burns.
Start Skin Cancer Prevention Early
We’ve come a long way from the days of exclusively making sure our children and babies were only protected from UV rays during beach outings. Since it only takes a single severe burn that causes blistering during childhood to double your (and your baby’s) chance of developing melanoma, it’s critical to follow best practices. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, but it’s also completely preventable.
Keep your baby in the shade whenever you can, and this is especially true when they are younger than six months. Shade is the best form of protection, but you have to make sure it’s complete for it to work. In other words, dining outdoors with just a tree for shade might not be enough. Canopies or hoods on strollers are fantastic, but if you’re outside it’s also best to apply sunscreen just in case—as long as the child is older than six months.
Infant Protection Tips
Sunscreen should not be applied on children younger than six months. During this critical period when skin is especially sensitive, you should only rely on shade and clothing to keep your infant safe. However, at six months old, you can start applying broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30. The best sunscreen for babies and those with sensitive skin contains titanium oxide or zinc oxide. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 75 minutes and immediately after sweating or swimming. There’s actually no such thing as waterproof sunscreen, and while water resistant or sport sunscreen helps it’s still not doing its best job if your child gets wet.
Sun-protective clothing is available for all ages, including newborns. Think long sleeves and pants (loose and light clothing is great in warmer months). Wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and socks when shoeless are all options to help double up on sun protection. Keep safe on hot days and avoid overheating. Fluids are critical for everyone. If you notice that your baby’s skin is starting to turn red (even if they’re covered and/or wearing sunscreen) or they’re getting fussy from the sun, bring them indoors.
Model Sun Protection
It’s equally important to model good sun protection for your children. Covering up and wearing sunscreen correctly are pretty easy habits to adopt. Make sure your child sees you applying sunscreen, too, and make it a must-do before anyone leaves the house. The sooner a child who is at least six months old gets used to wearing sunscreen on a daily basis, assuming they’re going outside daily, the more easily they will adopt this habit themselves with no fuss when they get a little older.
Schedule mole checks for the entire family today. Call Spectrum Dermatology at 480-948-8400.