The sun emits different types of radiation, among which we highlight:
- Ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation: It penetrates the deepest layers of the skin and is responsible for premature aging and skin cancer.
- Ultraviolet B radiation (UVB), affects the most superficial layer and is the one that generates burns, as well as skin cancer.
To enjoy the beneficial effects of the sun, such as activating Vitamin D, it is essential that we respect certain guidelines:
- Use sunscreens: These can be physical (reflect UV radiation) or chemical (absorb UV light). In young children, physical sunscreens are recommended because they penetrate little into the skin and minimize the risk of adverse effects such as dermatitis.
- The number of solar photoprotection (SPF) must be equal to or greater than 30. The SPF indicates the number of times that the sunscreen increases the skin’s defense capacity.
- The time to apply the sunscreen: it should be applied 30 minutes before being exposed to the sun, and repeated every 2 hours or after a prolonged bath.
- Age: children 6 months of age or younger should not be exposed to the sun. They must be protected by physical barriers such as the use of clothing and a hat.
- Schedule: avoid exposure to the sun between 12:00 and 16:00 pm, since it is the schedule with the highest intensity of solar radiation and the highest risk of adverse effects.
There are chemical compounds that are applied on the skin and prevent the bite of insects. Its effectiveness depends mainly on:
- Concentration: the greater the concentration of the active ingredient (AI), the greater the duration of the protection. The maximum recommended concentration of AI is 50%, since beyond that proportion there is no increase in the duration of the protection. On the other hand, products with an AI of 10% offer limited protection in their duration, equal to 1 hour. Therefore, the re-application frequency of the repellent will depend on the concentration of the AI.
If it is necessary to combine a sunscreen together with an insect repellent, it is advisable to first apply sun protection and after 20 minutes the repellent.
As for AI, the most known and used is the DEET. Examples:
- Goibi family spray (18% DEET)
- Normopic forte spray (50% DEET)
The DEET is discouraged in children under 2 years of age, in this age group repellents with IA Icaridin are prioritized. Examples:
- Aután active lotion (20% icaridin)
- Aután active spray (19% icaridin)
In children under 6 months of age the use of repellents is not authorized.
Alejandro Novoa and Sandra Klear / PCV Pediatrics Unit