This text comes from the stern archive and first appeared in July 2023.

A sunburn like this can happen quickly: you forgot to apply sunscreen to your calves, didn’t reapply it after swimming, and spent fifteen minutes digging in the sand on the beach without a sun shirt. A few minutes later the skin is red.

No wonder: children’s skin is extremely sensitive and much less protected from sunlight. On the one hand, because it is thinner and less covered by horny cells than in adults, where they slow down the penetration of UV rays. In addition, children’s skin contains less melanin. The pigment normally protects the skin by converting the incident light into heat energy. This means that UV radiation cannot damage the DNA of the skin cells. Children’s skin therefore needs particularly intensive sun protection.

At the same time, children are full of urge to move. They romp, run, slide, play and splash around – it makes sense that they get a lot of sun. It is unrealistic for parents to keep their children in a shady place all day when the sun is shining. Studies show: A third of all children spend an average of 15 hours a week in swimming trunks and bikinis on vacation. Water and sand reflect UV rays, which further increases the radiation dose. The result: 80 percent of all sun damage occurs before children are of age. During childhood and adolescence, the risk of black skin cancer doubles after just one sunburn. As parents, it is therefore our responsibility to protect our children well despite having fun and playing outdoors.

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