Baby Skin Needs Extra Sun Protection

Baby skin is especially vulnerable to sun damage. Here are five tips to keep your baby safe this summer.

Baby skin is sun-sensitive

Everyone wishes they had baby skin. It feels so soft and smooth; it’s perfectly adapted to induce us adults to want to clean their diaper, no matter how many times they dirty them. Like their big eyes and cute noses, baby skin it part of the whole package of being adorable. But like their eyes, their skin, however beautiful, is immature. Baby skin is thinner, has less natural moisturizers and has fewer pigment cells, making it more vulnerable to the environment than adult skin.

This is important especially in summer. How often do you see babies running around on the beach with just a diaper on? Although they seem indestructable, they are more vulnerable than the adult holding the pail and shovel.

Studies have shown that up to 83% of babies get sunburned their first year of life. This is our fault, not theirs. Sunburns at an early age can increase the risk for melanoma skin cancer on the trunk later in life. Sun exposure is also a poor way to get vitamin D for infants because most will get far more damaging sun than they need to make vitamin D — we adults tend to over cook them.

Here are five tips to keep your baby safe this summer:

1. Newborns up to 6 months should be kept out of the sun. Cover them up with light clothing and hats, and put the top down on the stroller.

2. Babies 6 months and older should not be exposed to the sun between 10am and 2pm. When they are outdoors, they should have sunscreen on all exposed skin. Because their immature skin can absorb chemicals more easily, choose sunscreens with zinc and titanium with an SPF of 30 or more. Chemical or spray sunscreens can burn their eyes which will be sure to make for a cranky baby at the beach.

3. Be sure to apply the sunscreen near their hairline, on their ears and at the edges of clothing — areas often missed by well meaning moms.

4. Choose sunscreens that are white or opaque; it’s easier to see where you’ve applied the sunscreen, and he’ll look cute anyway.

5. Be sure your baby is getting 400 IU of vitamin D everyday, then she won’t need any sun for her vitamin D.

Photo: Limaoscarjuliet, Flickr

3 Ways To Prevent Moles on Your Kids

Protect against sun to reduce moles

Do you ever wish you didn’t have so many moles? It might be too late for you, but it doesn’t have to be for your kids. By reducing their sun exposure, you can reduce the number of moles (also called nevi) they develop.

Sunburns and excess sun exposure are triggers for moles to develop. Having lots of moles can be unsightly and increases their risk of developing melanoma later in life. Reducing excess sun will limit the number of moles they have and reduce their risk for melanoma many years from now.

Many of us grew up without good sunscreens (baby oil and iodine anyone?), but you can do so much more for your children.

  • Apply a water-resistant sunscreen with SPF 30 (preferably one with zinc or titanium).
  • Reapply every two hours.
  • Cover them up with clothing (which is great for the beach when even the best sunscreens wash off in the surf).

Many of my patients wish they didn’t have so many moles. By insisting that your kids protect themselves now, you’ll prevent them from being one of those patients later.

Photo: Atiretoo, Flickr

Healthy Skin Site for Kids

Kids Skin Health Site

Math, reading, writing, dermatology. It’s back-to-school time, and any medical student will tell you it’s never too early to start learning dermatology. Here is a website from the American Academy of Dermatology to teach the littleĀ dermdocs in your house. It has information kids can use for homework, tips for healthy skin, and even a few games. Thankfully they didn’t require me to submit my “Skintastic Game” score to get into derm.

School Stress, Hormones, and Acne

Dear Dr. Benabio,

OMG, my face is a disaster! My acne is worse than ever. PLZ help me!

Desperately,

Your Patient

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Many of my patients email me; this is the most common email I am getting this week. Why is everyone’s acne flaring up all of a sudden? It’s because of this simple formula: [High School Stress + Hormones = Acne].

Acne results when your pores clog, trapping sebaceous oils and bacteria deep in the skin. When you’re under stress, your body releases cortisol, a hormone that helps you stay alive in life or death situations. High school, however stressful, is not usually life or death, but your body doesn’t know that, and it reacts as if it were.

Two side effects of increased cortisol are increased sebaceous oil production and increased inflammation in your skin. The result: big, red pimples in the middle of your face that make you now wish you were dead.

If you have painful, cystic acne bumps, then your dermatologist can inject the worst ones with steroids to reduce the inflammation and to flatten them out quickly — “Nurse! Give me a syringe with Kenalog. Stat!” (Who said I don’t do emergencies?) Steroid injections can, however, cause atrophy or dimpling in your skin, which can last for months — much longer than the original pimple.

  • Spot treating acne is difficult at home. Tretinoin products such as Retin-A, Differin, or Tazorac do not work if applied to acne spots.
  • You can pop a pimple; however, unless it has a white head, squeezing usually just makes a little pimple into a big pimple.
  • Apply a spot acne treatment such as Neutrogena Rapid Clear Fight and Fade Gel. The mild acids in it help dissolve a pimple when applied directly.
  • Use a spot cover-up or concealer that has salicylic acid in it. Yes, guys, it is OK for you to apply a dab of cover-up. Use your sister’s.
  • If you have a little extra cash lying around (humor intended), then acne zappers like Zeno can help. They apply heat directly to the pimple killing the bacteria and hastening recovery. Or just use your iPhone, (I’m sure they will have an app for that soon, right?).

Remember that school is stressful, so eat well, sleep well (preferably not in calculus class), and exercise regularly. These will decrease your stress hormones and help keep you acne free.

Disclaimer: I did not receive any free products or reimbursement from any products mentioned in this post; these are my unbiased suggestions.

Photo: John Steven Fernandez