Children are in a dynamic state of growth and are more susceptible to environmental threats than adults. A significant part of a person’s lifetime sun exposure occurs before age 18, and sun exposure during childhood and adolescence appears to set the stage for the development of both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers in later life. A few blistering sunburns in childhood can double a person’s lifetime chances of developing serious forms of skin cancer
The best protection against the sun is a hat and clothing. Next to that, safe and effective sunscreens are essential on parts of the body that remain exposed, like the face and hands. However, sunscreen should never be used to prolong the duration of sun exposure. Any sunscreen above SPF50+ is not recommended as it may provide a false sense of security that the skin is protected from prolonged sun exposure.
Make sun safety a priority and a habit for your family by adopting the following sun safe strategies and precautions. Remember, the best way to teach our children is by being good role models.
Infants under six months should be kept out of direct sun as much as possible, because their skin is not yet protected by melanin. When you do take your baby outside: -
Cover up – with protective clothing, swimwear, hat and sunglasses. Dress baby in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs, and choose a wide-brimmed hat that protects the baby's face, neck, and ears.
Make shade – Use the stroller’s canopy or hood. If you can’t find a shady spot, use an umbrella.
Avoid the midday sun – Take walks in the early morning preferably before 10 a.m. or in the late afternoon after 4 p.m.
Follow product warnings for sunscreens on infants less than 6 months old - Most manufacturers advise against using sunscreens on infants or advise parents and caregivers to consult a doctor first.
Sunscreens are an essential part of a day in the sun. But young children’s skin is especially sensitive to chemical allergens – as well as the sun’s UV rays.
Test sunscreen - by applying a small amount on the inside of your child’s wrist the day before you plan to use it. If an irritation or rash develops, try another product. Ask your child’s doctor to suggest a product less likely to irritate your child’s skin.
Slop on sunscreen and reapply often - especially if your child is playing in the water or sweating a lot.
Don't forget that children’s eyes need protection too! Compared to adults' eyes, children’s pupils are larger and their crystalline are clearer. As a result, they do not adequately filter UV rays. Their eyes therefore absorb more harmful UV radiation, making them more susceptible to damage. Published scientific research concludes that about 50% 80% of lifetime UV ray exposure may occur by age 18, so it’s imperative that we protect our children’s eyes now!
*The Eye-Sun Protection Factor (E-SPF) is a new international index certifying the overall UV protection provided by a lens. It is an objective rating system developed by Essilor International which can rate any lens for daily eyewear as well as for sunglasses. E-SPF ranges from 10 to 50+. Visit http://www.espf.com for more info.
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