It’s taken a long time for science to quantify what mothers have always known: the skin of babies and toddlers is very different from the skin of older children and adults. Babies’ skin is softer because the outermost protective layer, the stratum corneum, isn’t mature until at least age two. In babies and toddlers the total epidermis is also thinner, with increased absorption. That’s why skin damage starts with your child’s first sun over-exposure.
This can damage skin DNA, trigger inflammation, accelerate aging, and suppress the immune system in the skin. (Our skin is a key, active part of our immune system – not just the physical barrier we’ve long assumed.) Radiation-induced skin changes can start accumulating during a baby’s first summer.
Many of the chemicals used in sunscreens to absorb radiation act like estrogen hormones. These could end up throughout a baby’s body in the blood, and later be detected in the urine. This hasn’t been proven to cause a problem. Or proven safe.
How do you balance the health of young skin, where just a few sunburns can double the melanoma risk later in life?
I recommend a few simple steps:
And don’t forget a pair of stylin’ baby sunglasses!
Paller AS, Hawk JLM, Honig P, Giam YC, Hoath S, Mack MC, and Stamatas GN. “New Insights about Infant and Toddler Skin: Implications for Sun Protection.” Pediatrics. 2011; 128(1):1-11.