Sunscreen Safety for Kids
Common myths about protecting your child’s skin
Contributed by Sunny Gault of New Mommy Media
We know skin protection is important—especially in the San Diego summer sun—but there is a lot of misinformation about sunscreens and how to best protect the delicate skin of our children. Dr. Caroline Piggott is a pediatric dermatologist at Scripps Clinic in San Diego. She says it’s important for parents to use sunscreen properly to preserve the skin and protect against skin cancers, like melanoma. “Each blistering sunburn a child gets increases their risk of developing cancer,” she says.
Keep your family safe from summer sun. Here are common myths about sunscreen protection:
Sunscreen with the highest SPF is best.
Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30, which blocks 97 percent of the sun’s rays. Higher number SPFs may block slightly more, but no sunscreen can block 100 percent of the sun’s rays.
Babies less than 6 months should not wear sunscreen.
The American Academy of Pediatrics primarily recommends additional lightweight clothing and shade to protect your baby’s skin. However, if that is not available, parents can apply a small amount of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF.
Some sunscreens are waterproof or sweat-proof.
The Federal Drug and Food Administration says no sunscreen is truly waterproof or sweat-proof, but it can be water resistant. Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, more often if you’re sweating or jumping in and out of water.
Kids who have a tan or are dark-skinned don’t need sunscreen.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, everyone—regardless of race or ethnicity—is at risk for overexposure to the sun. A base tan is not a substitute for sunscreen and there is no such thing as a “healthy tan”—it’s simply damaged skin.
Sunscreen is all children need to stay safe from the sun.
Sunscreen is only one piece of the puzzle. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends staying in the shade whenever possible. Also, limit sun exposure during the peak hours of 10 am–4 pm.
For more information about sunscreen safety for your children, be sure to listen to our podcast. We also explore new label changes required by the Food and Drug Administration to help families determine what type of sunscreen is best for them.
Sunny Gault is a San Diego mom of four and founder of The New Mommy Media Network, where you’ll find free podcasts for new and expecting parents.
Published July 2016