It is estimated that roughly 5 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every year. These are staggering numbers, and this data remains a reminder of the importance of staying sun safe. Plastic surgeons are proponents of skin safety since they perform reconstructive surgery on skin cancer patients requiring skilled procedures, particularly on the face. Firsthand, they know how detrimental ultraviolet ray exposure can be.

Recently the American Academy of Dermatology’s Annual Meeting in New York revealed some disconcerting news from a study. Moms and dads are diligent in keeping their babies safe with car seats and “childproofing” the home, but when outdoors, this diligence falls short with their solar protection.

This year board-certified dermatologist Dr. Keyvan Nouri and fellow researchers at the University of Miami utilized a survey including 95 parents regarding skin safe practices for their babies. The study revealed that less than 15 percent were on point with the Academy’s sun safety practices for babies.

The survey also revealed the following statistics:

  • A total of 83% of parents sought shade for their infants.
  • A total of 43% of parents dressed their baby in wide-brimmed hats.
  • A total of 40% of parents routinely dressed their baby in sun protective clothing (i.e., long-sleeved shirts and pants).
  • A total of 29% of parents admitted to using sunscreen on their baby who was younger than 6 months old.
  • One-third of the parents admitted to allowing their infant to develop a sun tolerance with routine outdoor time.
  • A total of 12% of parents admitted that their infants had tanned skin whereas 3% admitted that their infant succumbed to a sunburn

Dr. Nouri said in the report, “Some parents may think they’re helping their children by exposing them to the sun, but actually, the opposite is true. Unprotected sun exposure can damage the skin and lead to skin cancer.”

The annual meeting underscored that parents are not taking the “proper steps” to shield their babies from ultraviolet rays.

Raising awareness is incredibly important for all families.

In Science Daily, the report highlighted while ultraviolet radiation is the leading cause of skin cancer, it is indeed the most avoidable. Unprotected solar exposure can cause the following:

  • Sunburns
  • Skin cancer
  • Premature skin aging

And childhood exposure can trigger the above. This news warrants a new skin care protocol for parents. The tips the Academy conveyed include the following:

  • When possible, keep babies 6 months old and younger away from the sun.
  • When outdoors, keep babies in shady areas.
  • On warm days and when outdoors, dress babies in lightweight long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Place a wide-brimmed hat on babies to help block out UV rays.

The study went on to say that, “Sunscreen use should be avoided if possible in children younger than 6 months.” It continued, “Parents of infants and toddlers 6 months and older may apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to their children’s exposed skin; sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are most appropriate for the sensitive skin of infants and toddlers.”

Although parents apply sunscreen, the American Academy of Dermatology still advises to keep children sun safe in the shade and having them wear clothing that is sun-protective. Healthy skin care practices are critical for infants, children, teenagers and adults of all ages.

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