Is “sunscreen cream” necessary for children?

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Cairo: Dr. Hani Ramzi Awad

The importance of sunscreens is always renewed with the onset of the summer season, especially in countries that are characterized by high temperatures and the intensity of the sun’s shining for long hours, such as the Arab region.
And many may think that using these creams for children is a kind of choice, as there are many children who have previously gone to the beach and spent a long time without getting skin infections or allergies, especially children with darker skin.
The importance of creams and the
fact that this hypothesis, although it carries an aspect of health, as the effect of the sun is more severe on people with white skin, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommended the need to use protective creams for all children in the event of direct exposure to the sun.
Studies have shown that there is a lot of important information about protective creams that parents are ignorant of, even those who are well aware of their importance. And in the most recent opinion poll conducted in the United States of 1100 American parents of children between the ages of five and twelve, most of whom had tried using these creams, either regularly or occasionally, the result was that 11% of the sample were not interested in a coefficient. Sun protection factor in the cream used.
This parameter is referred to as (SPF) and carries a specific number indicating the percentage of its ability to protect from the sun. Of course, the higher this percentage, the greater the degree of prevention. 3% of the sample expressed that they do not use a protective cream at all.
Parents indicated that there are several factors governing their use of protective creams or not, including the period of stay of the child outside the home and also the clothes that the child wears and to what extent they reveal areas of the skin and also the color of their child’s skin and how dark it is, as well as the descent of the child to the water, whether In the pool or the sea, and how hot the water should be.
Approximately 50% of the parents used protective creams depending on the day’s weather and whether or not it was sunny. The thing that parents do not know is that the ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted from the sun, which can negatively affect the outer layers of the skin, can reach these layers even on days that are full of clouds and there is no clear brightness of the sun, so the use of these creams is not a type. It is a luxury but essential to preserve the skin.
Medical recommendations
The results of the research also showed that re-applying the protective cream after an average of two hours varies according to the child’s exposure to water or sun. And there was 81% of parents who reapplied the cream when their children were exposed to water, and only 25% if the weather was full of clouds. Dermatologists indicate that the protective cream must be reapplied every two hours in order to maintain its sufficient effectiveness, especially in the case of the child being exposed to water, and it should also not use any protective cream less than 15% (SPF) and it is not important that the protection is more than 50% , As it was found that it has no effect of scientifically protection above this percentage, except in a slight way, regardless of the allegations of commercial marketing.
Also, children should be exposed to the sun during the peak period (from ten in the morning until five in the evening) as much as possible. According to the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the protective cream should be of the broad-spectrum sunscreen type, which means that the cream is a protective against UVB and UVA rays in order to limit their effect. It is preferable for the cream to be of the water-resistant type in the event of sea descent and also that the cream does not contain hormones or the substance oxybenzone that is included in the composition of most protective creams due to its harmful effect on the environment represented in coral reefs, which leads scientists to believe that it is It can harm the skin as long as it is harmful to the environment. There is scientific evidence indicating the possibility that this substance leads to a hormonal imbalance that negatively affects the skin.
The American Academy of Pediatrics warned parents that using a protective cream does not mean leaving children exposed for long periods of time in the sun, even if it is reapplied every two hours, as the cream does not block 100% of the sun’s rays, and it is just a way to reduce the damage of UV rays, not to prevent them. It can cause a first-degree burn in the upper layers of the skin and also, in the long term, can increase the likelihood of developing skin cancer.
Therefore, direct exposure should be avoided, and protective cream should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before exposure, and it should be applied to all places not covered by clothing and exposed to the sun.
In the end, the Academy confirmed the necessity of using these creams for children older than 6 months. For those under this age, it is preferable not to direct exposure to the sun, and they must wear clothes that cover most parts of the body, and in case of extreme necessity, a little cream can be applied to the hands and face.
* Consultant pediatrician

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