The best approach is to keep babies under 6 months of age out of the sun. Sunscreen is not advisable for these young babies. Their skin is less mature and their surface area to volume ratio much greater. This means they could be exposed to a larger amount of the chemicals in the sunscreen. If your infant must be in the sun, dress them in long sleeved pants and shirts as well as a brimmed hat. Baseball caps do not shade the ears and neck. Be careful that the baby does not get overheated. Young babies do not sweat as efficiently as older children and can suffer heat-related illnesses quickly. Infants can become dehydrated very quickly in the summer heat. Be sure they have extra liquids, enough that they are urinating light colored urine frequently.
Skin cancer is on the rise in the U.S. The American Cancer society estimates that one American dies every hour from skin cancer. One in five Americans wwill develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher reduces the risk of developing skin cancer by 40% and the ride of melanoma by 50%.
Ok, buy now my kids are older, so what is recommended? The FDA recommends looking for sunscreen labeled “Broad Spectrum”. These products have passed a test showing they block both UVA AND UVB rays. Both UVA and UVB rays cause sunburn, skin cancer and premature skin aging. SPF factor should be 15 or higher.
Even with Broad Spectrum SPF 15 sunscreen, limit time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense. Wear clothing to cover skin exposed to the sun such as long sleeved shirts, long pants, sunglasses and wide brimmed hats. Reapply sunscreen frequently, at least every two hours, and more often if sweating or in and out of water.
Apply the recommended amount evenly to all uncovered skin, especially lips, nose, ears, neck, heads and feet. Consider applying to the scalp as well. The sunscreen should be applied at least 15 minutes prior to sun exposure for effectiveness. Your kids’ eyes also need protection sunglasses (labeled sunglasses) with 99% to 100% UV protection are recommended. contact lense wearers should still wear sunglasses, even if their contact lenses have UV protection. Wrap around sunglasses are best!
Have a wonderful summer!