We are traveling to the beach with our 6-month old for the first time later this month. Are there any specific sunscreens that are safer and more effective than others?
Spending time outdoors is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle for families. Although sunlight is an important source of vitamin D, too much sun can be harmful leading to sunburn and increasing a person’s risk for skin cancer.
Sunscreen helps protect against sunburn and skin damage. When choosing a sunscreen, look for a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher and contains titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. For young children, lotions are preferred over sprays. Sunscreen sprays have fallen under scrutiny due to the possibility of inhalation of the fumes; therefore, they should never be sprayed near the face on children of any age.
Sunscreen should be applied about 20 minutes before heading outside and 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. when possible. Infants should be kept in the shade when possible. At such a young age, it is also important to be aware of the risk of over-heating and take frequent "air conditioning" breaks.
Dr. Rhonda Patt is a pediatrician with Charlotte Pediatric Clinic and past president of the Charlotte Pediatric Society. Dr. Patt answers questions from local parents in her weekly "Ask the Doctor" blog. If you’ve got a question you’d like answered please email Dr. Patt at: firstname.lastname@example.org and put “pediatrician” in the subject line.
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