Did you know a blistering sunburn in childhood can almost double your children’s lifetime risk of melanoma? Kid’s skin is especially sensitive, which is why we most always protect from the sun’s rays when they are young.
However, as children get older, appearance gets more and more important to them, and this is where tanning and tanning lotions might become something of an issue. Should you encourage your children to avoid tanning? or can you teach them a safe way to enjoy the sun tanning products?
Let’s start from the beginning.
How and why does the skin get tanned?
Tanning occurs when you force your body to produce more Melanin, the body’s natural way of protecting the skin from burning and the very same pigment that causes your skin to turn brown.
You see, the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UVR) comes in two types: UVB rays, which burns the upper layers of skin and can cause the typical sunburns; and UVA rays, which can reach the lower layers of the skin, affecting the cells called melanocytes. These cells are responsible for protecting our skin, and where the Melanin is produced.
When exposed to the sun’s radiation, everyone’s bodies naturally produce more Melanin, getting the skin darker and creating the tanned look. Some people produce Melanin faster, which in consequence makes them tan darker and quicker. However, this doesn’t mean they are safe from the risk of skin cancer.
This because UVA rays can also cause serious damage, as they can reach all the way through the skin’s protective epidermis to the sensible dermis, where blood vessels and nerves are found. This means there’s a probability UVA radiation can damage your children’s immune system, making it harder to fight off diseases, or even causing illnesses like melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, which If it’s not detected on time, can quickly spread from the skin to the body’s other organs.
How can I protect my children?
Check this thread where mom talk about this subject: here
In the case of your children, protection is more important than looks. Young people skins are especially vulnerable to damaging rays, so you need to protect your child by knowing what to do and how.
First of all, start with sunscreen. Remember when children are babies their skin is super sensitive and can absorb too many chemicals, so avoid sunscreens before they are at least six months old. You can make an exception if you find a lotion with zinc oxide as the only active ingredient, and use on small areas of her body.
According to many dermatologists, the best possible sunscreen is clothing followed by lotions and creams. So when you start taking your kids to the beach, make them wears clothes that cover arms and legs, and choose wide-brimmed hats to covers face, ears, and neck. Also, use sunscreen lotions with a minimum SPF (or sun protection factor) of 15. The higher, the better.
Once your kids get older, close to puberty at 12 or 14 years old, and start thinking on tanning looks, it’s safe to start working with tanning lotions. These products usually have an ingredient called dihydroxyacetone (DHA), that stains the epidermis, causing a browning reaction which is pretty similar to the one that happens on a piece of bread when making a toast.
The DHA “tan” usually lasts up to a week, until the skin cells to slough off, so if you exfoliate or wash strongly the color will indeed fade faster. Although there have been some concerns regarding that small amounts of DHA might enter through your skin and seep into the bloodstream, there’s no evidence that is actually a reality. So it’s fairly safe to say outdoor and indoor tanning lotions are safe ways for young people to get a tanned look without risking skin cancer and dangerous solar exposition.
Finally, remember the best way to teach your kids to protect themselves from the sun is by being an example! Protect yourself as you will protect your children: combine sunscreen lotions with clothes, avoid exposing yourself too much to the sun and remember to limit the time you spend in the sun, especially between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m, when the sun’s radiation is stronger on cloudless days. Prevention is the best way to beat skin cancer!