Sunshine, summer, and sunscreen!
Sunshine certainly is good for our soul, but we know it can also cause a painful sunburn. Use of sunscreen should be added to your “to do” list before your child heads out the door to play. This past weekend I strolled through the aisle of sunscreen and realized there are simply too many choices! A quick check of a sunscreen’s label will make the choice much simpler. So….what is the best choice for your child? Here are the most important things to remember:
- Children under 6 months of age should be protected from the sun as much as possible. This means shading your child with umbrellas, awnings, trees, and protective clothing. When you cannot protect your child from the sun…then use sunscreen where needed. All labels will say not recommended for children under 6 months of age, but you must use sunscreen if you cannot effectively shade your child.
- SPF protective clothing is wonderful! Rash guard shirts, swim suits, and hats are available at relatively inexpensive price points. Clothing that is SPF protective is easier than applying sunscreen to those areas!
- Choose sunscreen that states it is “broad spectrum”. That means it protects against UVA and UVB rays.
- Choose a sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30.
- There is NO waterproof sunscreen, only water resistant. The label will tell you if it is 40 minutes or 80 minutes of water resistance. ALL sunscreen needs to be reapplied after leaving the water and towel drying no matter how long your child has been in the water.
- The best choice for sunscreen has zinc oxide or titanium oxide as the active ingredient. These are mineral based sunscreens and not a chemical based sunscreen. This mineral based sunscreen is gentler on your child’s skin and there are some studies that chemicals like oxybenzone can affect normal hormone levels in children. Zinc oxide and titanium oxide are ingredients in most diaper rash creams and are very safe!
- If you have no other option than a chemical based sunscreen then use it! No sunscreen is more dangerous than using the chemical based sunscreen.
- Choose a lotion over a spray. I know sprays are convenient, but often the coverage is poor (try spraying a wiggling toddler!) and inhaling the spray may irritate a child’s airway.
- Use enough sunscreen! Adults should use about an ounce of sunscreen (think the amount of a shot glass) and a child needs approximately half of that or enough sunscreen to fill the palm of your child’s hand. If that 8 oz tube of sunscreen has lasted you more than 3 weeks, you aren’t applying enough!
- Re-apply at least every two hours, more often if your child has been in the water, sweating, or you have towel dried them.
- The most expensive sunscreen may not be the best sunscreen! READ the label…pure and simple. Very few ingredients are needed, zinc oxide or titanium oxide is the most important ingredient on the label.
Summer fun in the sun is a must for children….and so is protection of their skin when in the sun. During childhood, children usually receive about 25% of their lifetime sun exposure. Unprotected sun exposure as a child can result in skin cancers later, so protection from sunburn is essential. So, stock up on safe, effective sunscreen for your family and enjoy the summer sun!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
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