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Choosing a sunblock: tips from MD Moms

Today’s guest blog on sun safety comes from MD Moms, a company that makes some of our favorite skin care products. They’re moms, board-certified pediatricians, and well versed in sun protection. Here are some helpful hints to keep your kids safe while having some summer fun!

With summer in full swing, we’ve been fielding questions about sun safety in our pediatric practices at a rapid-fire pace. Did you know that more than 90% of all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure, yet fewer than 1/3 of adults, adolescents and children routinely use sun protection? More disturbing is that less than half of pediatricians counsel patients about sun safety during checkups. Given that 1-2 blistering sunburns in childhood double melanoma risk, we feel it’s important to reiterate these important sun safety facts.

Using the American Academy of Pediatrics Sun Safety guidelines (March 2011), here are answers to your most frequently asked questions:

Can I use sunscreen on my infant under 6 months old?

According to the AAP’s most recent policy, YES! Use sunscreen on skin not covered by clothing or hats when sun cannot be avoided.

What sunscreen should I use on my baby?

Physical sunscreens with inorganic active ingredients Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are less irritating, provide broad spectrum UVA/ UVB protection, and are effective immediately upon application.

In contrast, chemical sunscreens (those with active ingredients ending in –ate, -ene, or -one) have greater potential for skin irritation, take 20-30 minutes to absorb and activate after application, and leave kids vulnerable to UV rays if they’re out in the sun too soon after application. Recent concerns about Oxybenzone as a potential endocrine disruptor have led to its discontinuation in many formulations.

What SPF is best?

Ideally, SPF 30 should be a daily staple in your child’s skin care regime, and make sure that the brand you choose provides both UVA and UVB protection. SPF levels higher than 30 provide negligible benefits for protection, but may increase potential for skin irritation.

Proper application and frequent reapplication is key: adults and kids should use one full ounce of sunscreen lotion (a palm-full) to achieve the stated level of SPF. If you’re using a Baby Silk Babysafe Sunscreen Towelette, application of one towelette provides sufficient coverage for the average 2-year old. Don’t forget to reapply after swimming or toweling off.

What about Vitamin D?

Most people will obtain enough vitamin D through incidental UV exposure during daily activities (2-5 minutes of midday exposure) and with ingestion of foods/dairy products including vitamin D. However, your healthcare provider may suggest a supplement for your child to achieve the RDA for her age.

More tips:

  • Make sunscreen application a part of your family’s daily routine, and lead by example by applying it on yourself first!
  • Wear protective clothing with a high SPF rating and hats with generous brims.
  • Seek shade, but remember that UV rays can penetrate cloud cover and reflect off concrete, bodies of water, and even glass! So sunscreen use and protective clothing are important even on cloudy days.
  • Wear sunglasses with broad spectrum UV protection

Being prepared with the proper information is the key to being sun smart. So review your sun safety tips, grab your sunscreen, hat, and glasses, and have fun (safely) in the sun!

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