By Moms Orange County
Decades ago, a vintage Coppertone ad featured a toddler girl and her dog frolicking on the beach, tanning in the summer sun. Today we know that sun exposure can be dangerous for anyone, and babies and young children are especially susceptible to its damaging effects.
A review in the July 2011 issue of Pediatrics found that sun-related skin changes occurring as early as the first year of life could lead to melanoma and other forms of skin cancer later in life. More immediate concerns include sunburn, blisters and other skin damage. Here are five easy ways to enjoy the summer while keeping your baby safe.
1) Babies under the age of six months old should be shielded from the sun because their skin hasn’t developed enough layers to act as a physical barrier to ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can damage skin cells and suppress the immune system.
2) Babies should be kept out of direct and indirect sunlight to prevent heat stroke, especially between 10am and 2pm, when the sun’s rays are strongest. Even dark-skinned babies can be sunburned, contrary to popular misconception.
3) Dress your baby in long sleeves, lightweight cotton pants and a sun hat with a wide brim. Clothing can provide the physical barrier that babies’ skin lack.
4) When applying sunscreen, be sure to cover any areas of the skin not protected by clothing. And don’t forget about three areas prone to burning: back of hands, tops of feet and tops of the ears.
5) The best sunscreens are those with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 and labeled as broad spectrum. Also, look for formulas with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, and be sure to follow the directions on the packaging.
Find out more at momsorangecounty.org. M