- An infant 0-6 months isn’t mobile and can’t remove himself from exposure.
- Because glass filters out UVB but not UVA, a child placed in a cot in a sunny window won’t get sunburn but will be exposed to damaging UVA. The skin is also thinner and has fewer melanocytes to offer photoprotection. But sunscreen may not always be the best option either, as in babies and toddlers, applied substances are absorbed differently and the various biochemical mechanisms for metabolizing and excreting drugs aren’t fully developed.
- Children of all ages tend to spend more time outdoors during the peak UV hours of 10:00 am-4:00 pm — in the summer months, in pools and sand, and in the winter, on snow and ice. These surfaces are highly reflective, bouncing back up to 85% of UVB light.
- In addition, until the age of 10, the lens of the eye transmits blue/UV light more readily, exposing the retina to damaging UV radiation.
- Adolescents are more at risk because of peer pressure. While fashion dictates that tanning is beautiful, sunbathing is absolutely not advisable and this applies as well to the use of sunlamps and tanning parlors. Attitudes are changing, however, and in Australia, hats and sunglasses are “in.” Beach signs indicating water temperature, etc., now also remind bathers to apply lots of sunscreen.
Moles and teenage melanoma
Richard Haber, MD, FAAP, FRCPC is Director of the Pediatric Consultation Centre at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, McGill University, in Montreal, Quebec. He is also an associate professor of pediatrics at McGill.