Sunscreen & Sun Safety

Sunscreen & Sun Safety

by Dr. Rebecca Butler
Lantana Pediatrics

Sunscreen can help protect the skin from sunburn and some skin cancers but only if used correctly.

How to Pick Sunscreen:

  • Use a sunscreen that says “broad-spectrum” on the label; that means it will screen out both
    UVB and UVA rays.
  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 (up to SPF 50). An SPF of 15 or 30 should be fine for most people. More research studies are needed to test if sunscreen with more than SPF 50 offers any extra protection.
  • If possible, avoid the sunscreen ingredient oxybenzone because of concerns about mild hormonal properties.
  • For sensitive areas of the body, such as the nose, cheeks, tops of the ears, and shoulders, choose a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These products may stay visible on the skin even after you rub them in, and some come in fun colors that children enjoy.

Baby Sunburn Prevention:

A baby’s skin is more delicate and thinner than an adult’s and burns and irritates more easily. Babies cannot tell you if they are too hot or beginning to burn; therefore, understanding how well your baby can tolerate the heat and preventing sunburn is very important. Learn how to stop sunburn before it happens and keep your baby happy, safe, and smiling.

  • Babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct and indirect sunlight because of the risk of heat stroke. Particularly, avoid having a baby out between 10 a.m and 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  • Keep babies in the shade as much as possible. It is important to note that most reflective surfaces such as an umbrella or canopy may reduce UVR exposure by only 50%.
  • Dress babies in lightweight cotton clothing with long sleeves and long pants and a sun hat with a wide brim.
  • Sunscreen may be applied to babies younger than 6 months to small areas of skin uncovered by clothing and hats. Remember to cover all exposed areas of a baby’s skin, including the face, back of the hands, back of the neck, tips of the ears, and tops of the feet.
  • For babies older than 6 months: Apply to all areas of the body, but be careful around the eyes.
  • Apply the protection 15 to 30 minutes before going out and reapply every 1.5 to 2 hours particularly if a baby goes into the water.

Enjoy the sun and get some Vitamin D this summer BUT be very cautious and do not overdo it. The heat can be dangerous, especially for young children. Hydrate well and use protective clothing, sunscreen and sunglasses for all outdoor activities.

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