A recent Food and Drug Administration consumer update has this reminder: While liberal and frequent application of sunscreen to older children and adults is routinely recommended, infants under 6 months of age need special protection from the sun—not sunscreen.
Check out these tips for infants and summer sun safety:
Avoid certain times. Avoid the peak times of sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Take baby for an early morning or later afternoon/evening walk instead. You’ll avoid the hottest part of the day and, since infants don’t sweat well, will make it easier for them to stay cool.
Wear protective clothing. Rely on protective clothing instead of sunscreen to avoid sun exposure. Wide-brimmed hats, lightweight long-sleeved shirts and pants will protect baby’s tender skin. Consider clothing with built-in UV protection added directly to the fabric for additional protection.
Use sunscreen sparingly. Limit sunscreen use to areas that cannot easily be covered or shaded, such as the hands and face. Young babies have thin skin, which can more easily absorb ingredients from sunscreen and which also is easily irritated—especially by chemical sunscreens. When you do use a sunscreen, consider one that physically blocks the sun’s rays; look for the ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as these do not usually irritate delicate skin.
Stay in the shade. Use sun umbrellas, tents, or other means of shading to help avoid sun exposure, but also remember that sand, concrete, and water all reflect the sun’s rays.
Don’t forget the car. Protect baby from sun exposure when riding in the car (glass does not block the UVA rays) and on cloudy or cool days.
Never use insect repellent. Avoid “bug and sun” products. You should not apply insect repellent at all on infants under 2 months of age. Since sunscreen needs to be reapplied frequently, use of this combination product can cause your baby to be exposed to excessive amounts of insect repellant.
Wear sunglasses. Remember that eye protection is as important as skin protection. Train your infant to wear sunglasses that offer broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection and baby will learn this is a natural part of being outside.
New labeling laws for sunscreen went into effect on June 18. These rules should help consumers to better identify the water resistance of a product and which products provide broad spectrum protection (able to prevent sunburn, skin cancer, and premature skin aging).
For more information, read the FDA’s consumer update on infants and sunscreen.
Blog courtesy of Lancaster General Health
Jennifer S. Ammons, MD, FAAP is a pediatrician with Roseville Pediatrics. She is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and a fellow with the American Academy of Pediatrics. Her special interests include child safety, infectious diseases and immuniations. She is a graduate of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.