All About Sunscreen
Spending time outdoors is so important for our health. Kids should spend time outside daily to learn, explore, play and exercise. Outdoor play does bring the added risk of sun burn. Our children have years of sun exposure ahead of them and protecting their skin early is vital. Sunscreen is important for days at the beach and the pool, but also just for days spent playing in the backyard or at the playground. Remember sunscreen when it’s sunny but also on cloudy days.
Here are some things to remember about sunscreen and regular sunscreen application:
- Babies under 6 months of age – Keep babies out of direct sunlight and in the shade as much as possible. It is ok to apply a small amount of sunscreen to their exposed skin.
- Cover up! For all ages, covering up is the best protection – hats and sunglasses are helpful, as are swim shirts and light, breathable clothing.
- Avoid prolonged sun exposure during the peak hours of 10am – 4pm and find shade to play in when possible.
- Choosing your sunscreen – Recently, more information about sunscreen ingredients has been available, specifically chemical (ex. oxobenzone) versus physical blockers (ex. zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) and potential side effects of the chemical blockers. We don’t have definitive evidence about those side effects, but physical blockers like zinc oxide may be a safer overall choice.
- Most important – ANY SUNSCREEN IS BETTER THAN NONE and sunscreen is much safer than extended sun exposure without it!
- Your sunscreen should be:
- At least SPF 30 (we are not sure if anything above SPF 50 really makes a difference)
- Broad spectrum – blocking both UVA and UVB rays
- Water resistant
- Apply it 15 – 30 min BEFORE sun exposure
- Rub it in – don’t just spray it
- Reapply every 2 hours or after swimming, sweating, or towel drying
“Pro Tips” for Applying Sunscreen to Kids
- Apply sunscreen before you get outside while the kids are calmer and not as anxious to start their outdoor activity, before they even get their bathing suits or clothing on is easiest.
- Using a sunscreen stick on the face tends to be easier than lotion and safer than spray around the eyes.
- Make applying sunscreen a habit, just part of the normal routine – “We don’t ride a bike without a helmet or ride in the car without a seatbelt, we also don’t play outside without sunscreen”.
- Try to make a game out of it – maybe try to get them covered while you sing a song together or have your child do yoga poses while you apply to different body parts.
One of our favorite memes shows a good approach to applying sunscreen to your crocodile (we mean, child).