Acute skin sun damage in children and its consequences in adults

Coll Antropol. 2010 Apr:34 Suppl 2:233-7.


Children spend more time outdoors than adults and there is compelling evidence that childhood is a particularly vulnerable time for the photocarcinogenic effects of the sun. The negative effects of solar radiation are accumulated during the entire lifetime; however 80% of total lifetime sun exposure is taking place before the age of 18 years. Child skin is more sensitive than adult skin because natural defense mechanisms are not fully developed. A short exposure to midday sun will result in sunburns. Epidemiologic studies show a higher incidence of malignant melanoma in persons with a history of sunburns during childhood and adolescence. Sun exposure among infants and pre-school children is largely dependent on the discretion of adult care providers. Sun protective habits of mothers may predict the level of sun exposure in children. It is very important to transfer the knowledge and positive habits of proper sun protection to children. The purpose of sun-safety behavior is not to avoid outdoor activities, but rather to protect the skin from detrimental sun effects. Proper sun protection of children includes protection from excessive sun exposure, sunburns and other forms of skin damage caused by sun, which may lead to the future development of skin cancers. This paper reviews acute skin reactivity to sun in childhood and adolescence that causes damage in skin structure and function and produces undesirable chronic changes in adults.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / epidemiology*
  • Melanoma / prevention & control*
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Aging / pathology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use


  • Sunscreening Agents