Choosing Sun Protection for you and your child
Summer time is here and everybody wants to be outside. Outdoor activities such as playing on the playground, swimming, and riding bikes can expose you to harmful UV sun rays for an extended length of time. Protecting your children and yourself from sunburn is very important. What do you look for when you are choosing a type of sunscreen for your child?
Being a new mom I wanted to make sure that I was choosing a sunscreen that would not be harsh on my daughter's skin but would still protect her from the sun’s harmful rays. I know sunlight in moderation is not a bad thing. Letting your skin be exposed to the sun for twenty minutes will allow vitamin D to develop. Like most people we are outside longer than twenty minutes, so sunscreen is necessary and I started doing some research. One thing I found that I was not aware of was that there are two types of sun rays, UVA and UVB. Many products only have a SPF (Sun protection factor) rating which protects for UVB rays but not UVA rays. So when reading the label, make sure that you choose a sunscreen that says “Broad Spectrum.” This will protect you from both types of the sun’s rays.
It is also important to make sure you are following what the sunscreen you choose is instructing you to do. If you choose a sunscreen that tells you to wait twenty minutes before going in the sun or water, it is important you do so. Sunscreens without zinc oxide and titanium dioxide need the time to soak into your skin to start protecting you. (Griffin, 2007) If you got in the water too soon, it would wash away most of the sunscreen you put on. Always make sure you apply the correct amount and apply it to any skin exposed to the sun. You should be using one to two ounces of sunscreen every time you apply and most suggest you apply every two hours.
When choosing a sunscreen for your baby or a child with sensitive and fair skin, you may worry about what type of chemicals are good or bad for their skin. Try to find a children sunscreen that does not contain the ingredients amino benzoic acid (PABA) and benzephenones. (Griffin, 2007) Without these ingredients it becomes a less harmful and potent sunscreen for children’s skin. I know a nurse that works at a dermatologist office, and she told me to get a broad spectrum sunscreen designed for babies to use on my daughter. After doing this I found that it sufficiently protects her and does not irritate her sensitive skin.
There are other ways to protect your child from the sun in addition to using sunscreen. Make sure your child has a hat, sunglasses, and clothing that cover sensitive body parts. For example, tee-shirts, as opposed to a tank top, protect the neck and shoulders better. Having your children wearing hats when they go outside is very important. It is an easy way to protect their eyes and face from UV rays. (CDC, 2013) Also remember to reapply the sunscreen as instructed to avoid burns, especially after being in water. Sunscreens are not waterproof, they are water resistant, so it is important to reapply as instructed. Covering up can help you avoid using a large amount of sunscreen and gives extra protection. Using both; sunscreen and protective clothing will help avoid painful sunburns and reduce the potential of skin diseases caused by the sun in the future. Be safe this summer and cover up while you play! Play safe, Play smart.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), (2013). Prevention. Retrieved: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/prevention.htm
Griffin, Morgan R., (2007) What's the Best Sunscreen? Retrieved: http://www.webmd.com/beauty/sun/whats-best-sunscreen?page=1