Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. Other types of skin cancers could also develop in the skin.
The best way to protect children from the sun is by using good sunscreen.
What are UVA and UVB Rays?
There are two types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun – UVA and UVB.
UVA rays are generally known as ‘aging’ rays. They penetrate deep into skin and have long-term effects. UVA rays cause premature wrinkles and age spots.
UVB rays are known as ‘burning’ rays. They show short-term effects like sunburn on the skin.
Skin cancer can be developed by exposure to both UVA and UVB rays.
How to Protect Babies from the Sun?
Babies under 6 months old should be protected from direct sun by covering them with protective clothing.
Clothing and shade cover should be the primary method of sun protection. However, sunscreen can also be used on babies in areas that cannot be covered by clothing.
SPF and Water Resistant Sunscreens
Always choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. SPF stands for sun protection factor. It is a measure of how well the sunscreen can protect skin from UV rays.
SPF 30 can block almost 97% of the sun’s UVB rays.
Some sunscreens are labeled as ‘water-resistant’ but they are different from waterproof. All sunscreens wash off so it is necessary to reapply sunscreens at regular intervals when sweating or after swimming.
What are the Types of Sunscreens?
There are two main types of sunscreens:
- Mineral sunscreens: These sunscreens physically block UV from reaching the skin by acting as a barrier on the skin’s surface. They use titanium oxide, zinc oxide, or sometimes both.
- Chemical sunscreens: These sunscreens absorb into the skin and work by filtering out UV rays. They use different ingredients, like oxybenzone and octinoxate.
Both types of sunscreens protect the skin in different ways. They also contain chemicals even though the names vary.
How do you Differentiate Between the Types while Buying?
Always read the ingredients label on the sunscreen.
- Mineral sunscreens would only contain zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide as their active ingredients.
- Any other active ingredient, other than the two would likely result in a chemical sunscreen.
- Some sunscreens also use both mineral and chemical ingredients.
Which Sunscreen Type is Best?
Mineral sunscreens are generally considered better especially for babies and children. People with sensitive skin find mineral sunscreens less irritating.
Several recent studies indicate that ingredients present in chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the bloodstream at significant levels. They can also remain in the blood for extended periods even after a single use. Although, the chemical ingredients are present in the bloodstream, chemical sunscreens are considered safe.
No evidence suggests that nanoparticles present in the mineral sunscreens are absorbed into the bloodstream. Mineral sunscreens are the first choice for young children and babies.
Mineral sunscreens come in clear formulations and often leave a white, chalky residue on the skin. This can bother some older children and teenagers. If mineral sunscreen is not preferred by teens, they can use chemical ones.
“Any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen” says Dr. Luu, a pediatric dermatologist.
What are the Most Effective Ways to Apply Sunscreen?
- Apply chemical sunscreens 20 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun
- Apply a generous amount of sunscreen
- Reapply sunscreen every once in two hours
- If the child is swimming, reapply sunscreen every 45 minutes
- Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on ears, feet, back of the neck and back of the knees
- Use sunscreen sprays with caution. Sunscreen fumes should not be inhaled and applied above the neck area.
- It is recommended to also use a lip balm with SPF 15 or 30.
What are the Other Methods to Protect Children from the Sun?
- Seek shade at all times especially between 10 am and 2 pm
- Wear long-sleeved swim suits or rash guards while swimming.
- Wear tightly woven clothing when going out. This would also keep the child cooler.
- Wear a wide hat that would protect the face, scalp, ears and neck.
- Wear sunglasses to protect eyes. Buy kids’ sunglasses that would block 99% to 100% of UV rays.
In summary, it is very important to use proper sunscreen to protect children from skin cancer in the future. Apart from using sunscreens, other measures could also protect children from the sun.