Sun and Sunscreen Safety!

The summer heat is approaching…time to slather on sunscreen when out to play. Babies under 6 months should not wear sunscreen and should be kept in the shade as much as possible. If you do need to sunscreen on a baby, use it sparingly. While it is okay to apply sunscreen to babies older then 6 months, use with caution. Regardless of sunscreen, it is important to provide coverage for your children when in the sun…hat (3 inch brim), sunglasses (97 percent to 100 percent protection against both UVA and UVB rays), and lightweight pants and long sleeve shirt (tightly woven cotton but loose fitting).

When choosing a sunscreen…make sure it does not contain these ingredients:

  • Oxybenzone may interfere with hormones in the body
  • Nanoscale zinc and titanium oxides have been linked to potential reproductive and developmental effects. 
  • In skin, retinyl palmitate converts readily to retinoids, which have been associated with a risk of birth defects in people using acne medication containing the substance. Pregnant women may want to avoid products with retinyl palmitate, noted in the sunscreen Ratings.
  • Should be fragrance free
  • Should not contain parabens, PABA, homosalate, octinoxate
Reapply sunscreen often – apply sunscreen on exposed areas and reapply at least every 2 hours. The FDA recommends applying every 90 minutes to 2 hours. Also reapply after swimming or sweating, and after toweling off. Apply a thicker layer of sunscreen than you think!
Choose a sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays – UVB rays are the ones responsible for sunburns.  UVA rays are the ones responsible for getting down into the underlying layers of skin causing wrinkling, aging, and in some cases skin cancer.  Choose a sunscreen that protects from both UVB and UVA aka broad spectrum.
SPF is not the first thing to look for – the higher the SPF does not mean the better the protection! Anything above SPF 30 is good!
Many sites say to look for a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium oxide. The great thing is that they create a physical barrier from the sun rather than a chemical one abut look at the potential risk above.
Avoid putting sunscreen on babies hands since hands often end up in their mouth.
Your baby should have fresh air and light (we all need vitamin D from the sun) just not during the peak times of the day – when the sun is at its strongest!