Q: We are planning a beach trip with our 7-month-old baby this month. Are certain sunscreens safer or more effective than others?
Spending time outdoors is great for children and families. Sunlight is an important source of vitamin D; however, too much sun can be harmful and can lead to sunburn, which increases the risk for skin cancer.
Sunscreen is an important line of defense against sunburn and skin damage. When choosing a sunscreen, look for SPF 30 or higher with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. For young children, lotions are preferred over sprays. Sunscreen sprays have fallen under scrutiny due to the possibility of fume inhalation. They should never be sprayed near the face.
Sunscreen should be applied about 20 minutes before heading outside. Special attention should be given to the face, ears, neck and top of the head. Reapply sunscreen hourly. Sun-protective clothing and hats provide an extra level of protection.
Avoid sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Infants should be kept in the shade when possible. At such a young age, beware of overheating and take frequent air conditioning breaks.
Rhonda Patt is a pediatrician with Charlotte Pediatric Clinic. Email firstname.lastname@example.org; put pediatrician in the subject line.
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