Becoming a parent launches you into a whole new set of concerns. You have a tiny human to care for now, and every decision you make on their behalf is one you want to be positive. You feed them healthy foods and give them safe toys to play with, but when you're ready to take them outside, do you wonder if you can skip the sunscreen? After all, can a baby get skin cancer, or is that just something that happens to adults? It certainly is something every parent should take seriously, because not protecting that fresh skin could have some serious ramifications.
All skin needs protection from the sun, but it could be crucial to stay out of the rays during those first few months of life. According to the website for the Skin Cancer Foundation, a baby's skin is the most vulnerable to ultraviolet rays in the first six months. This means if you can keep you baby out of the sun, you should, or take measures to shield them if exposure can't be avoided. As the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's website pointed out, you can protect your baby from the sun in a number of ways.
Think of how doggone cute your little nugget will look in a floppy beach hat, sunglasses and stylish rash guard. All this style and loads of protection from those damaging sunbeams. You can also prop an umbrella up and let your baby roll, rest, and play in the shade. But will all these precautions keep your baby from getting skin cancer? Well, unfortunately, the answer is not as simple as cute hats and umbrellas.
Due to the fact that pediatric skin cancer is extremely rare, most babies do not receive a diagnosis of melanoma. That being said, the case of a 2-year-old girl with skin cancer has caused doctors to think twice about children developing this disease, according to ABC News. This little girls case was shocking since skin cancer is usually one that develops over a long period of time. As Kid's Health pointed out, skin cancer is believed to develop with a combination of genetic factors, the largest contributor being sun damage. Which means every time a baby experiences "bad" sun exposure, like sunburns, their risk of developing melanoma increases.
In addition to unhealthy sun exposure, some babies are born with more risk factors for skin cancer than others. According to Parents magazine, having light hair and fair skin, along with living in a southern latitude are potential risk factors for skin cancer. But of all the things that are the most concerning, are babies with moles present at birth, since these are the sites where melanoma begins. Make sure to check your child's moles regularly, and take them to a dermatologist for an annual scan. To help you remember what to keep an eye on, Baby Center suggested sticking to the ABCDs of moles, which are:
- Borders that are ragged, blotched or blurred
- Color that is inconsistent
- Diameter larger than a pencil eraser
Even though it's unlikely your baby will develop skin cancer, being cautious and proactive while they're little will set them up for a better chance of staying melanoma-free in the years ahead.