Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sun Protection for Kids with Albinism

When we were told that Liam had Ocular Albinism my thoughts about it being “only in his eyes” reflected also how I felt about the need to protect his skin from the sun……
If it’s only in his eyes why do we need to protect his skin too?

But I was quickly informed by our Genetics doctor that even children with only Ocular Albinism are very sun sensitive and need to have their skin protection on daily. They, just like people with OCA, are still very susceptible to sunburn and some types of skin cancer. So, I immediately began trying to find the best way to protect Liam’s little body from the harmful effects of the sun. I have found that there are three main things we use as sun blockers the most: sunscreen (of course), sunglasses, and sun hats.

Since Liam’s glasses are transition lenses we did not have to search out a good pair of sunglasses for him but I did find a great website for infant and toddler sunglasses for children who do not use glasses for the purpose of correcting vision already. I will be buying us several pairs of these, since at the beach and at the pool I don’t feel the need to take along Liam’s expensive pair of glasses when he is just going to be in and out of the water.

The site I found I love best is babybanz.com It was created by a dad in Australia who wanted more sun protection for his little one and that I can respect. They have great color and size choices and ship almost anywhere. Their glasses are very dark and have a band to strap around the child’s head to hold them in place. They also extend far back on either side of the child’s eyes to offer complete protection (like goggles) for their eyes. (Most of their pairs are around $15-$17, very reasonable I think!)

The best thing about hats: you can find them anywhere! The best ones are the sun hats whose lip circles the entire brim of the hat and if you can find infant ones with straps under the chin that’s even better!

Sunscreen for any child is very important but sunscreen for a child with any form of albinism is even more important. When I started searching I didn’t know much about the SPF reading on sunscreen bottles, and I had always thought that the higher the number the better. I had also thought that sunscreen and sun block were the exact same thing. This is not the case. Sunscreen typically refers to a formula that is absorbed into the skin (usually chemicals) that then block out the harmful UV rays of the sun, whereas sun blocks typically refer to a mixture that sits on top of the skin to form a barrier that blocks the rays from the sun. Usually sun blocks contain some levels of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which are the two main ingredients you want to look for in any sun protection bottle. Any sunscreen/block with these two ingredients in them will protect from both UVA and UVB rays. Since Liam, like his momma, has very sensitive skin I prefer to use sun block since they do not absorb into your skin like chemical sunscreens do, giving less chance for an allergic reaction or rash to form. I have also found that the proper amount of SPF in any sun block for normal infants should be between 15-30, but for a child with albinism the SPF needs to be between 20-30. Anything over an SPF of 30 typically has less of the sun protecting ingredients and more chemicals than you would want on your child’s skin and may cause it to become less effective against the sun. You should always make sure to wait 15-30 minutes if you choose to use sunscreen since it takes time for the chemicals to be absorbed into the skin unlike sun block which starts protecting your skin the moment it is rubbed on.

With these three items I feel I can worry less with Liam out in the sun and can focus more on enjoying the summer days with him. That’s something any mom would appreciate, so get your kids some sun blockers and get out there!

There’s lots of fun to be done in the sun!

1 comment:

  1. Can you recommend a brand of sunblock? My 7 month old son Liam, has been diagnosed with ocular/oculocantaneous albinism. We are having a hard time finding a sunblock.