The decalogue of children in the sun

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Catherine Le Nevez
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Fonte: shutterstock

Children and sun

The sun is good for children? How should exposure occur to avoid sunburn? Which sun creams to use and what should be the protective factor? Professor Piergiacomo Calzavara Pinton, director of the dermatological clinic of the Spedali Civili of Brescia, clarifies all the doubts of the mothers.

Here is the Decalogue of the children in the sun.


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In this article

  • The sun helps the harmonious growth of bones 
  • The sun helps regulate sleep and is good for mood
  • The risks of the sun: sunburn and burns
  • How to expose children to the sun: in a limited and protected way 
  • Never forget the sunscreen
  • Which protective factor to use 
  • Direct exposure to the sun must be gradual 
  • Avoid direct exposure to the sun of children with skin types 1 and 2
  • Up to one year of age avoid direct exposure to the sun 
  • What to do in case of sunburn 
Read also: Sun exposure for the little ones: risks and prevention

1. The sun aids in the harmonious growth of bones

The sun is good for children: it helps the harmonious growth of bones.
The ancient intuition that the action of the sun's rays was especially beneficial for children has been amply confirmed. The skin, stimulated by the sun, synthesizes vitamin D, which is not very present in food and valuable for the harmonious growth of bones and their health. Foods that contain small amounts of vitamin D they are milk, eggs, cod liver oil.


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2. The sun helps regulate sleep and is good for mood

In addition, the sun helps regulate sleep, is good for mood and helps with some skin conditions. The sun also favors the balance of neurotransmitters involved in the mechanisms that regulate sleep and mood.

Not only that: it helps in case of atopic dermatitis and other skin diseases such as Psoriasis.

Finally, it seems (but completely certain and definitive proofs are still lacking) that exposure to the sun solicits the production of particular substances (cytokines) which, through an action on the vitamin D, it may protect against some types of cancer.

Read also: 7 reasons to take children to the beach

3. The risks of the sun: sunburn and burns

The risks are related to the possibility that the child does burns as can happen when it is placed in the sun for a long time and without protection. It should be emphasized that the simple redness of the skin it is already the expression of a first degree burn. The appearance of vesicles filled with clear serum instead characterizes the second degree burn.

It should also be strongly emphasized that repeated sunburn in childhood, as well as representing a painful immediate inconvenience, they favor the onset of the most common skin cancers in adulthood: melanoma, spinalioma, basalioma.


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4. How to expose children to the sun: in a limited and protected way

Limited and protected direct exposure is the great categorical imperative which cannot be ignored, to which another indispensable rule is added: the child must not be in the sun during the central hours of the day, that is, between 11 am and 17 pm, or it must stay there very little and well protected.

Even if the day is cloudy, as the clouds are not enough to deprive the rays of their burning power.

5. Never forget your sunscreen

Keep in mind that another important protection, even if not sufficient, is represented by the t-shirt, the umbrella, the cap visor.

Read also: Can I take the baby to the sea and let him sunbathe in the summer?

6. Which protective factor to use

Until the skin has darkened it is advisable high protection (factor 30 to 50 or, better yet, 50+), after which you can switch to medium protection.

The application must be done just before exposing the child to the sun and not only in the areas that you want to protect. Care should be taken to spread the product evenly over the entire skin.

The protective effect of a sunscreen lasts on average for two hours, after which the application must be repeated. It is prudent to apply the cream even if the child is under an umbrella. The application of the cream should not authorize to prolong the time of direct exposure to the sun or to ignore the need to expose the child gradually.

Read also: Sun creams, everything you need to know

7. Direct exposure to the sun must be gradual

It should start with 5-10 minutes and then increase by 5-10 minutes each day. These times can be a little longer if the skin is well protected by an effective sun filter. The tan that gradually forms on the skin in turn becomes a protection during subsequent exposures (but be careful: you must continue to apply the cream anyway). However, this only applies if the child does not belong to phototypes 1 and 2, that is, he does not have red hair, freckles and milky skin, or blond hair and very white skin.

8. Avoid direct exposure to the sun of children with skin types 1 and 2

Phototypes 1 and 2, that is, with red or blond hair and milky skin, can never get a truly protective tan, so they should never be exposed directly to the sun, but they must wear a t-shirt and be protected by a sunscreen even during swim in the sea.

It should be remembered that the beneficial effects of the sun are also obtained in the shade: what matters, in fact, is the possibility of being outdoors, because the reflected light is sufficient to stimulate the production of vitamin D and also to tan.

Read also: Wind and children: why you can go out without fear (apart from a few exceptions)

9. Up to one year of age avoid direct exposure to the sun

Before the year of life, either the sea is in the mountains, the child should not be exposed to direct sunlight, except shortly after dawn or dusk. When he starts walking you can begin to make him stay in the sun, with all the necessary precautions.

10. What to do in case of sunburn

If the skin becomes red but there is neither itch nor discomfort, just apply an emollient cream on the part. As long as the redness persists, direct exposure to the sun's rays must be avoided. If the redness is associated with burning and itching, a small amount of cortisone cream can be applied.

If vesicles filled with serum appear, the child should be shown to the pediatrician. The blisters should not be punctured or covered with plasters or gauze. No home remedy (for example, egg white applications) has any effect and could even be counterproductive, so it is best to avoid.

Read also: Solar erythema in children

Questions and answers

When the sky is cloudy, no sunscreen?

It is a myth to dispel: the sun's rays also pass through the clouds (to the extent of 80%) and become more dangerous as the sensation of heat on the skin is reduced and there is a risk of subtle burns.

How to apply the sunscreen? 

At home, before going out or going to the beach: the sunscreen should be put on when the children are not sweaty and reapplied immediately after the bath, and in any case every two hours. 

How to get children to sunbathe?

You can take walks in the open air, at the park, at the sea or in the mountains; direct exposure to the sun (therefore on the beach) after 10:30 in the morning and before 16:00 in the afternoon is strictly forbidden.

Read also: 12 tips for proper sun exposure

  • children's sunscreen
  • sun protection factor for children
  • Sun
  • 1-2 children years
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