By: Amanda Rumore
The Valley of the Sun boasts year-round sunshine, which is optimal for outdoor fun, sun kissed skin… and melanoma. Arizona has the second highest incidence of melanoma in the world, so Valley parents must be precautious with children’s delicate skin in the harsh Arizona sun.
Dr. Nancy Kim, dermatologist at Spectrum Dermatology in Scottsdale, explains, “Protecting our kids from excessive sun exposure can reduce their lifetime incidence of skin cancer, especially melanoma, which is a very dangerous form of skin cancer.” With the Skin Cancer Foundation sharing facts including that one or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life and regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer) by 40% and the risk of developing melanoma by 50%, it proves that prioritizing youth skincare is a necessity.
Dr. Kim explains, “Newborns and babies under 6 months old should never be exposed to direct sunlight without protective clothing and hats. There are no studies regarding the safety of sunscreens in children younger than 6 months, therefore they should be kept out of direct sunlight.”
In babies and children older than 6 months, most experts recommend using physical sunscreens. “Physical sunscreens contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are best for infants, toddlers and anyone with eczema as well as older children and adults,” suggests Dr. Kim. “Sunscreens with these ingredients physically block the sun’s UVA rays from penetrating the skin.”
“Children should avoid chemical sunscreens which have ingredients such as PABA, benzophenone, oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone, padimate O and homosalate,” says Dr. Kim. There is quite a bit of controversy about these chemicals and their safety in children has not been fully established. Furthermore, these chemicals may cause irritation of skin in young children.
Dr. Kim’s Summer Skincare Tips for All Ages
- Look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide with an SPF of 15 or higher. SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays; SPF 30 blocks 97 percent; and SPF 50 blocks 98 percent.
- Apply sunscreen liberally to cover all exposed skin, including ears, neck, hands and feet. Remember, more is better when it comes to sunscreen. Don’t skimp when covering up.
- Put on sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before heading outdoors since it can take 30 minutes for sunscreen to start working.
- Don’t save your sunscreen for sunny days. Even on a cloudy day, up to 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can pass through the clouds. You can check the national UV Index to find the specific UV risk for your area on any given day.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after a dip in the pool, even if you are using a water-resistant product.
- Don’t forget sun protective clothing and hats with broad brims, clothing with SPF for pool time and sunglasses with UV protection.
Professional Skin Evaluation
Spectrum Dermatology offers full body skin exams to patients of all ages. For monitoring any skin changes, it is important to have a good baseline evaluation. “With young patients, we try to avoid invasive procedures unless absolutely necessary as children can be extremely anxious,” explains Dr. Kim. They also recommend yearly skin exams.
For more information and to schedule your appointment, visit SpectrumDermatology.com
Dr. Nancy Kim is board certified in dermatology and fellowship-trained in Mohs skin cancer surgery. She is a former Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the University of Arizona. Dr. Kim began her career at Harvard, received her medical degree from the University of Arizona College of Medicine and completed her residency in dermatology at the University of Miami. She then completed a fellowship at the prestigious University of California, San Francisco. With her extensive training, Dr. Kim is committed to providing the highest quality of dermatologic care to her patients.