I am Dr. Mary Ann Chiodo, a Pediatrician and one of the founders of ABC Pediatrics. I’m also the mother of 6 fair skinned children. Over the years, I’ve shared concerns expressed by parents regarding the proper use of sunscreen.Countless sunscreen options and confusing warning labels often prompt parents to call our office during the summertime.
Calls are always welcome but my recommendations about sunscreen use for infants and children may be helpful.
While sunscreen use is important, it is NOT recommended for infants under 6 months old. It is best to keep your newborn baby out of direct sun until he/she is older. Always dress newborns in protective, comfortable clothing and keep them cool. Choose shady areas when outdoors. If it is absolutely unavoidable, sunscreen may be used sparingly on areas like their nose, cheeks and ears. Avoid applying sunscreen around their mouth, on hands or arms because it is very important that infants do not get sunscreen in their mouths.
For infants over 6 months, it is safe to use most commercial sunscreens. There is little difference between sunscreens labeled for children and regularly labeled products. Most sunscreen manufacturers have removed PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) from their products because of allergic reactions but it is a good idea to make sure your choice is always PABA free. I recommend that my patients use a sunscreen with a SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 50. And, choose “broad spectrum” sunscreens which protect against UVA and UVB sun rays.
Few other sunscreen tips for infants and children:
- Sun blocks containing zinc oxide or titanium oxide are products that applied directly to the skin but are not absorbed by the skin. These products are immediately effective and introduce fewer chemicals into the body. They are usually visible after application, come in fun colors and are usually used on areas that burn easily like ears, noses and cheeks.
- It is best to apply sunscreen 15 minutes to 30 minutes before going outside and every 2 hours during exposure. Remember that sunscreen is not waterproof no matter what the label promises.
- Protect those eyes too! Sunglasses with lenses that filter 100% of UV rays are essential for everyone who enjoys outdoor play.
Always be a good example and use sun protecting products yourself. If you have additional questions about sunscreen use or your child unfortunately suffers from sunburn this summer, please contact our
office. Bridget welcomes your call and will be happy to schedule an
appointment with me! (910) 892-1333, option 1.
Take care and God Bless,
Dr. Mary Ann