Sunday, October 9, 2011

Choosing sunscreen for children

Thinking of bringing your children to the beach? Infants less than 6 months of age to advised to avoid direct sun exposure (have shades, have lightweight fabric or clothing to limit skin exposure to the sun), whereas for older infants and young children limiting exposure time and avoidance of peak sunlight exposure would prevent sunburn /damage to skin. If you still insist on bringing your children outdoor, further sun protection measures such as the use of sunscreen may be necessary.

  • Apply and reapply sunscreen: In infants and young children, use sunscreens that have the lowest possibility for skin penetration, irritation, and allergy. Since babies often rub their eyes and put their hands in their mouths, exposure through this route must also be considered. For children 6 months of age and younger, the AAP recommends sun avoidance but states that sunscreen may be applied to small areas of skin uncovered by clothing and hats.

  • Sunscreens containing only small amount of titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide do not penetrate beyond the stratum corneum in adult or infant skin. These same sunscreens may also be the mildest to eyes and safest for oral exposure. Oil-based emulsion formulations of these inorganic sun filters seem to be the safest forms for very young children and those with particularly sensitive skin since they tend to contain fewer fillers, fragrances, photostabilizers, and preservatives.
     (Reference: )

    Note that sunscreen is to be applied about 20 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapplied every 2 hours or sooner (depending on activities).Use also a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15.

    SPF stands for sun-protection factor which, theoretically, when multiplied with the length of time one gets sunburnt without sunblock gives the length of time one can stay out in the sun without getting burnt. The tendency for burn is however related also to the amount of sun exposure which depends on a number of factors such as the duration of exposure, time of day, geographic location, and weather conditions. SPF only indicates the protection against UVB.

    Now we know why some sunscreen are specially formulated for children. Take a look at their ingredients next time!

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