In a study done by German researchers, it was found that children who were adequately covered in clothing while [playing in the beach or outdoors suffer less chance of having melanocytic nevi or skin moles. The number of melanocytic nevi a person has determines the risk factor for developing cutaneous melanoma or skin cancer.
In the study that covered 1812 children in the age of 7 to 12 yrs, scientists have tried to analyze the effect of sunscreen on the number of moles children develop. For children who spends long hours in the sun and wore protection like sun block cream and clothes to cover their bodies, developed less number of moles than children who stayed out in the sun for long hours in bathing suit and covered with sunscreen. Researchers believe there exists a negative correlation between amount of clothing worn and the number of skin moles develops when exposed to sun. However they also feel that more research is required to confirm their preliminary findings that clothes are more important factor in protection from harmful effects of the sun in children.
Scientists of the study are of opinion that the effect of sunscreen cannot be negated as sun protection factor but it is not healthy to depend only on sunscreen lotions for protection from the sun. Parents need to be educated in the beneficial role of using sun screening agents like clothes and sun block creams on children to make them protected when out in the sun.
Reference: American Journal of Epidemiology, issue April, 2005