May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. It brings skin cancer into focus to help the public understand this disease especially when it can have an impact on the safety of infants, babies, and toddlers.
It only takes one, blistering sunburn in childhood to double your chances of developing Melanoma as an adult. Many parents do not realize the best ways to protect their babies and children. Also, if Covid-19 has your kids feeling bored and ready to get out of the house for a walk or some exercise, please be aware of the following sun safety tips from the Skin Cancer Foundation:
0-6 months: Infants under 6 months old should be kept out of the sun because they are vulnerable to the sun’s damaging rays. Shade is very crucial since they are too young for sunscreen. Infants are born with little melanin, the pigment that gives color to their skin, hair and eyes and provides some protection from the sun. Use window shades to block sunlight from coming into the windows of your car or install UV window film.
• Take walks early before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. and use the protective stroller cover to shield your infant.
• Dress your baby in lightweight clothes that shields the arms, legs and torso.
• Use a wide-brimmed bonnet or hat to protect the baby’s head.
6-12 months: Sunscreen is safe to use now--choose a formula for babies.
• Look for sunscreens with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These are physical sun blocking agents.
• Apply a sunscreen that is broad-spectrum with an SPF factor of 30 or higher. It is best to use a tear-free formula to prevent stinging of the eyes.
• If you use a spray sunscreen, it should never be sprayed directly to the face; you should mist your hands then apply to your baby’s face.
• Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before going outside and every 1 ½ to 2 hours especially after swimming and sweating.
Pre-School Age: It is important to educate your child and caregivers about sun safety.
• Use sunscreen that is broad-spectrum with an SPF 30 or higher. Choose a water-resistant and spray-on sunscreen which is good for wiggling toddlers. Spray-on sunscreen should be rubbed in completely if used.
• Help your child find shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Make sure the play area has enough shade.
• Dress your child in long-sleeved, unbleached cotton clothes that are cool, comfortable and very protective or clothes that have an Ultraviolet Protection Factor of 30 or higher.
• Choose a wide-brimmed hat and a pair of sunglasses to protect your child’s face, neck and ears.
Source: The Skin Cancer Foundation SkinCancer.org
Dana N. Jennings is a physician assistant at Owensboro & Henderson Dermatology. To schedule an appointment, contact our office at 270-685-5777.