When it comes to skin care, new parents are often pulled by conflicting drives. You know that too much sun exposure is bad for baby, and want to start healthy skin care as early as possible. At the same time, it's natural to be concerned that sunscreen might be harmful to your baby.
Even a few sunburns at a young age increase the risk of skin cancer, and the younger children are, the more control you have over their protection from the sun. In addition, no parent wants to deal with a baby who's sunburned and teething, so it's important to take any and all appropriate steps to prevent sunburns from occurring in the first place.
Under 6 Months
The FDA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Cancer Society all recommend avoiding sunscreen use on infants less than 6 months old. Avoiding excessive sun exposure is important for all children, but it's especially important in children who can't yet use sunscreens. During those early months, use hats, sunshades, window shades, and covers when outdoors. In addition, work to limit direct sun exposure as much as possible.
Over 6 Months
After 6 months, it's recommended to apply sunscreen liberally whenever you're outdoors. Sunscreen normally needs to be reapplied every 2 hours, even if you weren't in the sun for the whole two hours. A baby-friendly lip cream with SPF should also be applied to protect the lips. You should continue to use protective clothing and limit time in the sun during peak hours, since no cream can completely block out all UV rays.
For babies of all ages, sunglasses should also be worn outdoors. Sunscreens can't be applied to the eyelids and just under the eyes due to the risk of them getting into the eyes, but those areas can still be burned. In addition, exposure to the sun increases the risk of eye conditions later in life, particularly in those with light-colored eyes.
All sunscreens are considered safe for use on babies age 6 months and older, regardless of whether they are advertised for use on infants. However, some babies may experience irritation with certain sunscreens. To avoid this issue, use a sunscreen that uses an inorganic filter such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Ensuring that your family stays healthy starts with ensuring your health. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Tucker, please click here or call 225.766.2132