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*This blog post was written in collaboration Dr. Carrie-Dow Smith with information sourced from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
How young is too young to put sunscreen on your child? If you have a newborn, should you avoid going to the beach at all?
Below, we address these and other similar questions that parents may be pondering – especially with the summer just around the corner! Follow these simple tips to protect your children and other family members from sunburns and other skin issues down the road.
Tip #1 – Avoid direct sunlight.
If your baby is younger than 6 months-old, keep him/her out of direct sunlight. Find shade under a tree, umbrella, or use your stroller canopy. Babies eyes are especially vulnerable to UV damage because their lenses allow penetration of dangerous rays, more so than adults.
Tip #2 – Dress cool & comfortable.
Dress your children in cool, comfortable clothing that covers the body. Great examples include: lightweight cotton pants, long-sleeved shirts, and hats.
Tip #3 – Wear a hat or cap with a brim.
Hats are great for protecting your child’s face. Be sure that the brim of the hat/cap faces forward to help shield your child’s face properly.
Tip #4 – Limit sun exposure during peak times.
In North Carolina, the summers can get pretty hot. Avoid lengthy or unnecessary sun exposure between 10 am and 4 pm, when UV rays are the strongest.
Tip #5 – Wear sunglasses.
Look for child-sized sunglasses with at least 99% UV protection.
The following are some tips to help you select the appropriate sunscreen.
How should sunscreen be applied? Are there areas that I don’t have to include?
Be sure to use enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin – especially the face, nose, ears, feet, hands, and backs of the knees. Be sure to rub the sunscreen in well.
How much sunscreen should I use on my child/myself?
Use a generous amount of sunscreen when applying it. Most people use way too little!
When should I apply sunscreen?
Apply sunscreen at least 15 – 30 minutes before heading outside. Why? Sunscreen needs time to properly absorb into the skin.
How often should I wear sunscreen?
You should put sunscreen on you or your child any time you plan to be outside. Keep in mind that even on overcast days, you can STILL get a sunburn! This is because up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can still break through the clouds. Additionally, UV rays can be reflected off of water, sand, snow, and even concrete.
How often should I reapply sunscreen?
You should reapply your sunscreen every two hours – especially after swimming, sweating, or drying off with a towel.
When Should I Call a Doctor?
If your child is younger than 1 years old and gets a sunburn, contact your doctor immediately. For children who are older, contact your child’s doctor if your child is experiencing blistering, pain, or fever.
Source: Fun in the Sun: Keep Your Family Safe (Copyright © 2008 American Academy of Pediatrics, Updated 4/2014)
About Carrie Dow-Smith, MD
Dr. Carrie Dow-Smith is a board-certified pediatrician with WakeMed Physician Practices – Pediatrics.
3000 New Bern Ave.
Raleigh, NC 27610