WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends to start applying sunscreen when babies reach 6-months-old and those that are younger should be kept out of direct sunlight.
There are two types of sunscreens available for children, according to Dr. Yolandra Hancock, a pediatrician in Upper Marlboro, Md.
There is chemical and physical, or mineral sunscreen. The physical sunscreen is the zinc oxide or titanium oxide products that leaves a white film that acts like a barrier when applied, according to Hancock. She said she recommends it for younger children.
“It’s a shield to protect against the sun’s harmful rays,” Hancock said.
Older children and those who don’t have any skin issues, such as dry skin or eczema, should use a chemical sunscreen. These products are applied to the skin and absorb the sun’s harmful rays like a sponge, Hancock said.
She recommends avoiding the spray form of chemical sunscreen because breathing it in could cause lung health issues. Users should also pay attention to the SPF. Hancock recommends using a sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher.
“SPF is just an indication of how well protected your skin is using a sunscreen,” Hancock said. “For example, an SPF of 30 lets us know that you’re 30 more times protected against a sunburn than if you didn’t use sunscreen at all.”
As far as reapplying sunscreen on children, Hancock said it depends on how often they are going out into the water and being out under the sun. Parents should reapply sunscreen to children immediately after they emerge from the water.
“The higher the SPF, the more time you have in terms of having to reapply,” Hancock said. “Even if you’re using a SPF of around 50 to 70, you still want to reapply it every two hours or so because we are also outside sweating and a lot of that sunscreen comes off when you sweat.”
When it comes to sunscreen sticks, pay close attention and make sure not to miss any spots, Hancock said.
“We want to get as much surface area as we can,” she said. “We recommend cream, but if you’re using a stick, pay attention to where it is hitting the skin to make sure you get full coverage.”