Summer is officially here! As the weather warms up and you and your family start spending more time outside, it’s important to keep sun safety in mind to ensure a healthy and happy season. Check out the following Q & A with CHOC Pediatrician, Mark Colon, M.D., for some great tips about sunscreen.
Q: At what age can I begin putting sunscreen on my child, and what SPF is best for young children?
A: A child is never too young for sunscreen. But it’s wise to keep babies under 6 months out of direct sunlight altogether. Their thin skin can burn after just minutes in the sun. Dress infants in lightweight cotton pants, a long-sleeved shirt and a broad-brimmed hat for added protection.
Before using sunscreen, test a patch on your child’s back to make sure there’s no allergic reaction. Look for sunscreen that includes:
- “Broad-spectrum” on the label. This means it will screen out both UVB and UVA rays.
- SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 for UVB protection, and 45 for babies.
- The new UVA “star” rating. Four stars is the highest protection available in an over-the-counter sunscreen, and the best for children
For sensitive areas, such as the nose, tops of the ears and the shoulders, choose a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
While there are sunscreens made particularly for babies and toddlers, the most important thing to remember is that the higher the SPF and UVA stars, the better. For best results, apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure. And remember to re-apply every two hours and after swimming.
A final note – just because your children are using sunscreen doesn’t mean they can stay in the sun all day. It just means they’re lessening the risks of sun damage.
Do you have any great sun safety tips? Post a comment and share!