If this is your first summer with your baby, you are probably wondering how you can better protect him from the sun. Even if you don’t spend the whole day outside, the sun’s rays can be too strong for your delicate skin, so it’s important not to get burned. In fact, the skin has memory, and having sunburns in childhood increases the risk of developing skin cancer in adulthood.
How did our grandparents protect themselves from the sun?
Sunscreen is a recent invention. In fact, it arose in the wake of World War II, when soldiers posted to the Pacific began to suffer skin burns from long hours of exposure to the sun.
In 1944, the pharmacist Benjamin Green discovered that paraffin, a substance that is extracted from oil, formed a thin layer on the skin that prevented the passage of ultraviolet rays. Pharmaceutical Merck & Co. bought that patent and developed a cream that facilitates tanning and protects against sunburn. It was then the 1950s.
Before sunscreen appeared, our grandparents used common sense. This means that they did not expose themselves to the sun during the central hours of the day and that when they did go out, they used to wear loose-fitting clothing in light colors, so that they did not absorb heat and facilitated perspiration. The cap and hats were essential to protect the face.
If you apply these strategies with your children, you can considerably minimize the impact of the sun’s rays. Therefore, take short walks early in the morning or in the afternoon, when the sun is less strong, and if possible walk in shady areas.
Can you put sunscreen on a young baby?
Conventional sunscreen is a chemical filter, no more, no less. This means that the ones we buy for us are not recommended for babies since their skin will absorb all these substances and they could suffer from allergies and irritations.
Because the outer layer of the skin of babies is much thinner than that of adults and its cells are less compacted, it has a higher permeability to many substances that could be harmful, in addition to being more sensitive to the effect of the sun. To this is added that the weak pigmentation of children’s skin increases sensitivity to ultraviolet rays. Babies’ skin has melanocytes, but they are less active.
Many sunscreens contain parabens, which are added to formula as preservatives, but overuse can be harmful to babies, so any infant cream should be free of these substances. It is also not recommended that sunscreen contain perfumes. The perfume gives it a good smell but it does not fulfill any protective function and in some babies, especially those with sensitive skin, it can cause allergies.
The thing changes with physical filter creams since they act as a screen reflecting light. They are especially suitable for children since the skin does not absorb them. They are usually thick in texture and sometimes leave the skin looking whitish, but are safer for even the most sensitive or dermatitis-prone skin. This type of protector can be used by babies under six months, although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends applying very little to areas that are actually exposed to the sun, such as the arms and legs.
In summary, the ideal is that you do not have to use sunscreen with your baby since you should not spend long hours in the sun. If you go to the beach, remember that even if you are under the umbrella, the sun’s rays bounce off the sand and water, so they can be dangerous for your child.