Sun protection for your little ones! <3

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Good Afternoon Friends!

A break from the confines of the home, as we begin to have outdoor activities and leisure time outside. Your kids will want to be outside all the time, and just like riding a bike with a helmet, kids should play outside with sun protection.  We wanted to inform you about the best ways to protect your babies and older children during all of your summer outdoor activities.

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Should we be using sunscreen on children younger than 6 months?

NO. Infants younger than 6 months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight and covered with appropriate protective clothing and hats. Parents may apply mineral sunscreen when sun avoidance is impossible and, then, only on exposed areas. Preterm infants, because of a thinner stratum corneum (very upper layer of the skin), may have a higher susceptibility to the absorption of sunscreen ingredients.

For both adults and children, sunburn causes severe UV-induced damage that could lead to skin cancer. Sunburn hurts a lot for adults and can be dangerous in some instances, but for babies, sunburn can be a medical emergency causing blisters, chills, heatstroke and most importantly it vastly increases their risk for skin cancer. Babies have sensitive skin that contains less melanin, a pigment that gives eyes and hair their color, and offers some sun protection. 

One major sunburn during a child’s youth can double their chances of melanoma (skin cancer) during adulthood. Children should never be exposed to harsh sunlight, and parents should do everything they can to protect their children from sunburn, no matter the age. Excessive sun exposure in early age also increases the number of new nevi on the skin. 

Here are a few quicks tips to sun safety for toddlers and children.

Shade and shelter

Seeking shade between 10am – 4pm is a must for children, when the sun’s UV rays are at their peak. Awnings, strollers, umbrellas, and trees all offer varying degrees of shade.
Not all shade is created equal, as some trees can still allow through a lot of UV rays, so be mindful of the different level of protection when seeking cover for you and loved ones.

Sun safe clothing

Lightweight long sleeve gowns and one-pieces are the best forms of protection for infants. Long sleeve shirts and pants, for toddlers, “softer colors won’t absorb as much heat as the darker shades.”  If you can keep sunglasses on them it’s a great thing to have! Just as our adult eyes can be damaged by UV rays, so can our children’s.
Wide-brim hats are a must as well for you and your little ones, as it is a great initial line of defense for their face, ears, neck, as well as their eyes. 
Start as soon as possible with long-sleeve UPF clothing on the beach so they will accept the look and don’t fight it at a later age. 

Road safe

We all must remember that UVA rays (the aging rays that penetrate deep in the skin and also can cause skin cancer) pass through glass, including car windows. We all know the famous photo of the female truckdriver that has lot more wrinkles and skin aging on the left side of her face from large amounts of UVA rays from her years of driving on the road. Try to keep your children in a middle seat while traveling to minimize their sun exposure.  Sun shades for the windows are a great tool to block the UVA rays.  Shades will also help to keep your child cool, as infants in particular are more susceptible to heat exhaustion due to their limited ability to regulate body temperature. 

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Guidelines for Babies and Sunscreen

When you begin introducing sunscreen to your child, be sure to perform a patch test first. This means applying the cream to a small area of the skin to see if the child has any adverse reaction to the product. We recommend using all mineral filters: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, because they are the safest filters and less likely to irritate a child’s skin. These two mineral filters are the only filters deemed as “GRASE” by the FDA. (Generally Recognized as Safe and Effective). 

While sunburns can cause serious harm to babies’ skin, there are many great forms of sun protection available to parents. Keep these sun protection tips in mind when you enjoy the outdoors with your children.

We hope you have an amazing day! We can't wait to make 2019 a great Sun Safe year with you! 

Sending our best, 

Peter, Edit & the rest of your Harken Derm Family! 

Aliz Savay