Every time we go outdoors, we’re exposed to Ultraviolet (UV) rays and the repeated exposure builds over time. The delicate skin of babies and toddlers is particularly susceptible to sunburn and UV damage.
According to Dr. Ramzi W. Saad, Board Certified dermatologist and partner at South Shore Skin Center and Spa, “UV damage can happen at any age, but it begins to occur during childhood. The more frequent the exposure to Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays without protection, the greater the risk of developing melanoma or skin cancer as an adult. Parents and caregivers are responsible for protecting the very young, so knowing HOW to best protect them is key.”
The dermatologists at South Shore Skin Center and Spa provide the following expert advice to parents and caregivers for protecting the skin of very young children from harmful UVA/UVB rays from the sun (which are present even on cloudy days):
1. Apply a chemical-free sunscreen containing an SPF 30 or higher. Sunscreen may be applied to babies older than six months and toddlers. Look for products that are chemical free and have 10 percent micronized Zinc Oxide such as Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Baby SPF 30+ or Solbar Shield SPF 40.
2. Dress young children in sun protective clothing. Covering up the skin with clothing is one of the most effective ways of protecting the sensitive skin of babies and toddlers. Sun hats with wide brims and flaps to shade ears and neck, lightweight long sleeved shirts, sun rompers and swim bodysuits provide good coverage. Brands such as Coolibar offer 50+ UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) clothing. Other sun protective clothing brands may be found online or at retailer REI.
3. Sunglasses help protect the delicate eye area. Skin cancer can develop anywhere on the body, including eyelids. Because sunscreen cannot be applied on or around the eyes, it’s important to shield the eye area from UV rays. For young children, opt for rubber or flexible frames and shatterproof lenses. To ensure that lenses provide UVA/UVB protection, look for the statement “100% UVA/UVB protection” label on the lense when making your purchase.
4. Seek shade. Shady areas not only offer some cool relief on a hot summer day, but some protection from UV rays.
5. Block UVA/UVB rays in babies younger than six months. Sunscreen should not be applied to babies younger than six months of age, yet exposed skin is left vulnerable without sunscreen. So, how do you protect your baby’s skin from UV rays? Follow tips 2, 3 and 4.
Dr. Saad continued, “As children become more independent, parents and caregivers have a greater challenge of ensuring their tweens and teens wear sunscreen every day, seek shade and wear protective clothing. That is one reason why it is imperative that children learn ‘sun safe’ habits at a very young age because they will have a better understanding of the importance of protecting their skin as they grow older.”
Melanoma is the most common cancer in young white women ages 25-29 and second only to breast cancer in women ages 30-34. New England has the highest concentration of melanoma cases in the United States.
“It cannot be stressed enough that one of the key ways to minimize melanoma mortality is to protect the skin from UVA and UVB rays, starting in early childhood,” noted Dr. Saad.
About South Shore Skin Center and Spa
South Shore Skin Center and Spa is one of Massachusetts’ most progressive dermatology practices offering a wide range of medical, surgical and cosmetic services.
Founded in 1984, South Shore Skin Center and Spa is a unique team of physicians, physician assistants, nurses, medical assistants, surgical assistants, and licensed estheticians who are all specialists in dermatology and share a passion for excellence and a commitment to providing the highest level of care to both children and adults in the greater Boston area. In addition to the medical dermatology office and Mohs Surgical Unit for skin cancer, South Shore Skin Center and Spa offers cosmetic dermatology treatments for wrinkles, age spots, acne scarring, birthmarks, hair removal, tattoos and more using the Fraxel re:store DUAL and Fraxel re:pair lasers, DEKA SmartXide DOT, Candela VBeam, Gentlelase, Gentle YAG, and Alex lasers. The practice also offers a full range of affordable anti-aging services including Botox, Restylane, Perlane, Juvederm and other wrinkle fillers; volumizers such as Radiesse and Sculptra; microdermabrasion; medical grade facials, micropeels and chemical peels.
South Shore Skin Center and Spa is located at One Scobee Circle, Unit 3, in Plymouth, Mass. (508) 747-0711 and at 223 Chief Justice Cushing Highway, Suite 202, in Cohasset, Mass. (781) 383-3340. For more information, visit the website at www.southshoreskincenter.com.