Protect Your Children From the Sun!

Interview

This year, summer appeared for a few days in April, reminding us of how crucial it is to prepare for sun protection in time. Children's skin is much more sensitive than that of adults, so it matters when we take them out in the sun, what sunscreen we use, and what to do if signs of sunburn appear on their skin. Dr. Ágnes Csitos, a dermatologist and pediatric dermatologist at Dr. Rose Private Hospital, provides answers and useful advice on these questions.

For small children and newborns, it is advisable to avoid direct sunlight whenever possible and keep them in the shade. It's also important to protect their heads with a small hat and their eyes with sunglasses if we do take them out in the sun or partial shade. As with adults, children's skin needs to get used to sunlight. The goal is not to protect ourselves from the sun itself or to fear the sun, but to avoid sunburn, emphasizes Dr. Ágnes Csitos:

SUN PROTECTION

It's not enough to protect against sunlight with clothing, hats, and sunglasses; in the case of high UV exposure, the use of sunscreen is recommended. We can simply look at our phone or smartwatch to see the UV index and decide what action to take.

UV INDEX AND SUNSCREEN

If the UV index is 5 or above, it is necessary to use sunscreen on sunny days. Choose sunscreen with at least SPF 30 or 50, as they filter UVB rays and provide strong protection for the skin, advises the dermatologist. She also emphasizes that special creams need to be generously reapplied every 2-3 hours.

PHYSICAL SUNSCREEN

For newborns and very young children, it is better to use physical sunscreen, which means physically covering the skin, as the physical filter reflects sunlight. This is important because chemical filters can cause allergic reactions, while physical filters are more stable and provide reliable sun protection. Unfortunately, their use is less pleasant as they are stickier and more adhesive, but they do effectively coat the skin.

CHEMICAL FILTERS

For older children, as with adults, it is worth choosing products with chemical filters, which have a softer consistency.

SUNBURN AND MELANOMA

It is especially important to protect children's skin and prevent sunburn because childhood sunburn can significantly increase the risk of developing melanoma. Continuous DNA damage initiates processes that can later lead to skin cancer. Therefore, sun protection is crucial even for very young children.

If sunburn does occur, the most important thing is to cool the skin with cold body lotion or cold water, depending on the severity of the burn. Avoid using sour cream. Antihistamines and itch-relief medications can also be used. Don't forget to drink plenty of fluids and stay in the shade.

WHEN TO CONSIDER A DERMATOLOGICAL EXAMINATION?

Even before adolescence, it is worth taking children for a dermatological examination once or twice, depending on how many moles they have, advises the dermatologist at Dr. Rose Private Hospital. With two or three moles, an examination every 3-4 years is sufficient. From adolescence, many new moles appear due to hormonal changes. From then on, annual or biennial check-ups are recommended, and children learn that dermatological check-ups and mole screening is part of routine examinations.

SKIN TYPE GROUPS

In terms of melanoma development, people are classified into six main groups based on skin type, from Group 1 which includes fair-skinned, freckled, red-haired individuals, to group 6 which includes people with black hair and dark skin. Different rules apply to each group for sun exposure. Additionally, family history should be considered; the occurrence of melanoma and skin cancer calls for caution, and the number of moles is also significant. For instance, those with more than 100 moles should have regular check-ups, possibly every six months.

ABCDE RULE

It is also important to aid screening by examining our skin two or three times a year. What signs should we look for? According to Dr. Ágnes Csitos, the following are essential according to the English ABCDE rule:

  • A: Asymmetry in the mole
  • B: Irregular borders
  • C: Colour changes or multiple colors within a mole
  • D: Diameter, significant change in size
  • E: Evolution, rapid changes in a mole

These are all warning signs that call for a dermatological examination.

 

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