When it comes to skin cancer prevention, it’s never too early to start using sun safety measures.
That’s why new recommendations call for parents of young infants to practice sun protection with their children.
“The big change is when it comes to counseling of individuals at high-risk for skin cancer about sun protection, we’ve now lowered the age to start that counseling to include parents with infants ages six months and older,” says Thomas Knackstedt, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic.
Knackstedt says infants have different skin than adults and are therefore more susceptible to sunburn, as their skin is not fully developed.
He adds the new recommendations are especially important for children with fair skin, who are considered to be at higher risk for sun damage.
Knackstedt says while all skin colors have the same number of pigment producing cells, the amount of melanin, which is a brown pigment that the skin produces, is different from person to person. Melanin changes the energy that the sun directs toward the skin, so the less melanin a person’s skin has, the less protected it is.
But regardless of a person’s natural pigmentation, Knackstedt says it’s important for everyone to practice sun safety by using sunscreen, UV protectant clothing, or sun avoidance to keep from adding to lifetime sun exposure.
“It’s the cumulative sun exposure that causes risk for certain skin cancers, where for others, it’s the number of high-risk sunburns that you accumulate, therefore, childhood sun exposure is very dangerous in that regard,” he explains.
In young children, Knackstedt said it’s best to use physical barriers — such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide sunscreens and UV protectant clothing. He said infants under six months of age should not be taken in the sun at all.
The complete recommendation statement can be found in here.
— Submitted by Cleveland Clinic News Service