Q&A: How Can We Keep Children Safe from the Sun

Summer is coming soon and most of our children’s activities are going to be outdoors, in addition to going to the beach. Lots of children suffer from sunburn, sunstroke and dehydration during summer, so mothers need to watch their children carefully during the play time outdoors and take the necessary precautions from the sun. I visited Dr. Nazik Ezzedine, MD in Dermatology and Cosmetic Dermatology, and she explained more about how to keep our children protected under the sun.



What are the dangers of the sun on children’s skin?


The sun imposes two main dangers on children: sunburn for the skin and sun stroke. Ultraviolet radiations (UVA, UVB and UVC) are emitted by the sun. Skin damage is caused by UVA and UVB rays. UV rays can alter the DNA, causing premature skin ageing and leading to skin cancers including deadly melanoma. On the other hand, sun stroke, also called heat stroke, is a potentially life threatening condition caused by getting exposed to heat for a long period which leads to an internal body temperature exceeding 40 °C.



Do parents need to buy sunscreen specifically for children? And what level of SPF should be applied?


It is not necessary to read on it “for children”, however, it should be fragrance free, broad spectrum (provides protection against UVA and UVB), free of preservatives, hypo allergenic with a minimum level of SPF 50. So for parents, it would be easier to buy a sunscreen for children, which should combine all these conditions if bought from a good brand.





What is the best way to treat sunburn of children’s skin?


Before thinking about the treatment, we should prevent sunburn from happening in the first degree. However, if a child suffers from sunburn, it is important to see his dermatologist. We usually prescribe certain creams depending on his condition. Some parents use Aloe Vera gel to ease up the pain from sunburn, which doesn’t harm and could help heal the burn.



Is one application of sunscreen enough to protect children’s skin?


Definitely not. One of the major mistakes parents commit is thinking that one sunscreen application a day is enough. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours and sometimes less if the children are spending most of their time in the water.



What tips can you give parents as we are getting closer to summer season?


Parents should try to keep their children in the shade and not directly under the sun. Moreover, children under the age of three should not be directly exposed to the sun at all. It is very important to put a hat on their head, a tee-shirt, and anti-UV sunglasses in addition to applying high protection sunscreen on the skin and reapplying it every two hours. Finally, keep offering children water and avoid the sun between 11 am and 4 pm. All this should be remembered not only when children go to the beach, but also whenever they are exposed to the sun during sports or outdoor activities.


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