I have two young children, so skin cancer prevention is very important to me

Photo of a family taking a stroll along the beach (PantherMedia / Fabrice Michaudeau ) Gina, 39 years old

“The children don’t really like having sunscreen put on all the time. They just find it annoying.”

I have two young children, so skin cancer prevention is very important to me. We went to Australia on vacation once before we had children. We saw that the people there were much more aware of skin cancer protection than people in Germany. Even on the highways there were billboards promoting skin cancer protection. The sun is stronger there, and we could see that people in Australia have a different attitude towards skin cancer than we do here.

When our first child was still very little, I started paying a lot of attention to sun protection. Sometimes I even draped cloths over the buggy. Even back then all the different kinds of information confused me. Babies are basically not supposed to be in the sun at all, and should therefore not need any sunscreen. But you can buy sunscreen lotion for babies. Both of my children were born in May, and when you have a young child you want to get out into the fresh air. The information you get is very contradictory. Some say that you are not supposed to use chemical sunscreens on children, and that mineral-based products are better. But mineral sunscreens are supposed to dry out your skin. I wasn’t sure what to do and felt so confused that I even called the sunscreen manufacturers and asked about the right sun protection for each age.

I have the children wear protective t-shirts

My children are fair-skinned, and because I use enough sunscreen on them, this hardly changes. It runs in the family - we don’t have dark skin. My husband and I also use sunscreen. My husband is even more sensitive than I am. We also use sun hats to protect ourselves from too much sun.

Because the sun rays can also get through fabric, I also put sunscreen on my children when they wear normal T-shirts. Since last year I have had them wear protective T-shirts that have a sun protection factor. These are short-sleeved shirts, so I still put sunscreen lotion on their arms and legs, but at least their upper body is protected.

It is always a balancing act, because your body should get a bit of sun, too. But having them wear these T-shirts and putting lotion on their arms and legs works quite well.

We never go to the beach at noon

The children don’t really like having sunscreen put on all the time. They just find it annoying. The sand sticks to their skin, and when they put on chemical sunscreens they are supposed to wait a while before going out into the sun. They are a little bit older now and understand why. I find it a lot more difficult with younger children. They just hate having sunscreen put on. Sometimes the whole thing is quite a messy affair: it needs to be spread and rubbed in, which isn’t very pleasant. I don’t like it myself, either.

We never go to the beach at noon. Instead, we take a lunch break and try to stay in the shade. I always have my kids wear hats. Doing that already makes a big difference. I still put sunscreen on their faces, anyway. Even though they wear hats and put on sunscreen, the skin around their eyes sometimes does get red, but they never have sunburns.

My children have reddish-brown hair and freckles, and their skin is quite sensitive. We also check for changes on their skin, but I haven’t found anything unusual so far.

 

Acknowledgement

Our real-life stories summarize interviews with people who are affected by the medical condition. Our interview partners have given us permission to publish their stories. We would like to express our sincere thanks to them.

The real-life stories give an insight into how other people cope and live with a medical condition. Their opinions and comments are not recommendations by IQWiG.

Please note: The names of our interview partners have been changed to protect their identity. The photos are of models.