PARENTS of children under the age of six months should not take them to the beach and should, as a rule, keep them out of the sun unless their skins and heads are covered, according to Cristina Nadal, the dermatologist at Son Llatzer National Health Hospital.< She issued her warning yesterday, adding that “it has been proved that sunburn in infancy, together with blond or red hair and light eyes, are risk factors for the development of melanoma as an adult.” She said that melanoma is a particularly aggressive cancer and is one of the most frequent causes of death in young adults.
As for taking children aged between six months and two years to the beach, Dr Nadal recommended avoiding the hours of 10am to 6pm, which is when the radiation is most intense. She also advises not to use sun block creams on large areas of skin on babies under six months, as they can cause rashes. For older children, it is advisable to apply specific pediatric products with protection factors of 30 or higher half an hour before going out into the sun. “After being out in the sun, it is important to moisturise children's skin, no matter what their age,” Nadal said, adding that small children should also wear sun glasses. The doctor stressed that “very great care should be taken of a baby's skin, because the structures responsible for heat regulation and the defences against ultra-violet rays have not matured.” If a child, especially one under the age of two, suffers extensive sunburn, he or she should be treated by a doctor, to control possible symptoms of dehydration, Nadal said. She stressed that “an excess of sun, especially in infancy, causes changes at a molecular level in the cells of the skin which will remain all life long and which will become evident at an adult age” which is when cancers such as melanoma or the less aggressive carcinoma can appear. She added that the Balearics has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, with an average of 750 new cases every year.

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