Summer is here, which means more exposure to the sun. People see it as an opportunity soak up as much of the sun’s UVB rays as possible in order to supply the body with some essential Vitamin D. The sun’s rays are dangerous, however, and not only for adults but especially for babies. If you’re thinking about taking a baby to the beach this summer or anywhere the infant may be exposed to the sun, you might want to think twice or at least take some extra precautions to protect the baby.
Baby’s have very sensitive and delicate skin. Because their skin is thinner than that of adults, they are at a greater risk to burn more quickly and more severely. Why? Because unlike adults, when a baby is being exposed to too much sun it lacks the ability to tell anyone or get up and remove itself from the sun. A mother in England decided to take her 5 month old baby to the beach with her back in May of this year and failed to provide him with the proper protection. Other beachgoers noticed the baby in clear distress and with blisters already formed on his body. They informed police, who handled the situation. The baby was burned on 40% of his body. With the exception of crying, a baby has no voice to tell us it needs to get out of the sun. By the time a baby starts crying, it’s already too late and the damage is done. The best scenario is to always keep babies in the shade and dressed in lightweight clothing that covers every inch of the body.
Dangers from the sun are really no different than that of an adult. As in adults, the sun can cause many problems for a baby’s skin and eyes. In addition to rashes, sunburns create a danger of developing skin diseases in the future, such as melanoma (otherwise known as skin cancer). Research supports the fact that two or more blistering sunburns as a child increase the risk of developing skin cancer later on in life. This is one clear reason why it is important to keep babies out of the sun. Their sensitive skin will blister easily, as that 5 month old baby did on the beach in England, putting them at greater risk of skin cancer. Sunburns also put a baby at risk for dehydration and fever, wrinkles, and cataracts of the eye.
Signs of too much sun exposure
Babies can exhibit signs of too much sun exposure, so you should pay attention to some of these warning signs.
– Skin warm to the touch, red and puffy
– Decreased activity
– Dry mouth
– No tears
Severe sunburns are considered an emergency so if you suspect your baby has been exposed to too much sun, call your medical provider immediately.
How to protect the baby
Again, the most obvious way to protect a baby from the sun is to simply avoid it as much as possible. While this is not always possible, you should also employ common sense and do the following:
– Put sunglasses on your baby that block 99% of the sun’s rays.
– Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapply. A minimum of SPF 30 that is made for babies should be used.
– Brimmed hats should be worn to cover the head.
– Lightweight long sleeved shirts and pants should be worn.
Southeast Bay Pediatric Medical Group
Baby Safety Concerns.com
North Dakota Department of Health