1. When can sunscreen be applied on babies?
Sunscreen can be applied on babies six months and older. The next logical question is why? Without going into detail on skin biology and the difference between baby and adult skin, suffice it to say that a baby’s skin is more delicate and prone to irritation. The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin, and it is much thinner in young babies. This thinness is what makes a baby’s skin more susceptible to irritation. Young babies also have a larger surface-area to body-weight ratio. This increases a baby’s risk to absorption of ingredients, including the chemicals in some sunscreens. However, regardless of a sunscreen’s ingredients, you should hold off on applying sunscreen to babies younger than six months old.
2. How do I protect my baby from sun exposure if he is less than six months old?
The best thing you can do to keep young babies safe from sun exposure is to keep them out of the sun during peak UV times, or 10 am until 2 pm. And whenever you are outside with your baby, seek shade whenever possible. Also, cover you baby with lightweight clothing that protects most areas of the skin. You can also look for clothing with UPF protection in it. Lastly, keep a hat on your baby. Do this now, while they are too young to pull them off!
3. What type of sunscreen should be used on babies?
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-based spectrum sunscreen (meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays) with an SPF of 30 or more. Baby Pibu™ Baby Sunscreen is a natural, chemical-free sunscreen for babies and has an SPF of 30+. It also has the Daily Use Seal of Approval from the Skin Cancer Foundation. Chemical-free sunscreens utilize the active ingredients of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These ingredients create a physical barrier against the sun. It is also recommended that babies use sunscreens with micronized ingredients rather than those with nanoparticles. Nanoparticles are particles that are so tiny they can be absorbed through the skin into the body. Micronized ingredients mostly stay on the skin’s surface. You can tell a sunscreen is micronized by its telltale whitish film.
4. What sunscreens are recommended for children of different age groups?
For babies six months to 2 years old, chemical-free, broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreens are recommended. For toddlers 2 to 5 years old, chemical-free, broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreens are also recommended. If using a chemical-based sunscreen, try to use chemical-free sunscreens on the face. Chemical-free sunscreens with the titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are less irritating and less likely to bother their eyes. Children older than 5 years old can use chemical-free or chemical-based sunscreens. Chemical-free sunscreens tend to be less irritating and should be used on children with sensitive skin or eczema. Regardless of sunscreen type, use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
5. How often should sunscreen be applied?
Sunscreen needs 2-30 minutes for its ingredients to bind to the skin and be most effective. A good way to make sure you have plenty of time for it to start working is to apply sunscreen right when your little ones are getting into their swimsuits. As a rule of thumb, reapply every 1 ½ to 2 hours or after significant water exposure and sweating. Many sunburns happen not because the first round of sunscreen wasn’t applied, but instead because it wasn’t reapplied.
We hope these answers help with the top 5 sunscreen questions. Remember, even one bad sunburn in childhood can increase your child’s risk of melanoma later. Keep them protected!