Save your children’s skin: Use a mineral sunscreen
Summer’s longer days lead to extra innings at the ballpark, more kicks on the soccer pitch, and bigger sand castles on the beach. While it’s vital for everyone to protect themselves from increased exposure to the sun, infants and children are especially susceptible to harmful UVA and UVB rays. If you don’t take the necessary steps to protect their skin, the sun can have serious consequences on their immediate comfort and long-term health. But a child’s skin isn’t the same as an adult’s.
Babies and children are not only more sensitive to sun exposure, they can also be more sensitive to the products designed to guard against it. A recent Today article highlights the potential dangers some chemical-based sunscreens can have on an infant. The child in the article suffered from redness, swelling, and blistering on her face shortly after her mother applied a chemical sunscreen. Dr. Adam Friedman, interviewed in the article, suggests parents only use mineral-based sunscreens – zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide – for children until they are about four or five years old.
Although the jury is still out on the true impact – both short- and long-term – of chemical-based sunscreens on infants and young children, it’s better to err on the side of caution. Unlike mineral sunscreens that sit on the surface of the skin and act as a physical barrier to harmful UV rays, chemical sunscreens may be absorbed into the body. Infants and children have less developed immune systems and more sensitive skin. The chemicals contained in many regular and “kid-safe” sunscreens could potentially make them more susceptible to adverse reaction, such as irritant or allergic dermatitis. Why not reduce the risk? Play it safe, so your kids can keep on playing.
Sun protection tips for parents
- Sunscreen, mineral- or chemical-based, should only be applied to babies six months and older.
- Babies under six months old should be kept out of direct sunlight and dressed with sun protection in mind: Long sleeve tops, long pants, sunglasses, and wide-brimmed hats.
- In a pinch, if a chemical-based sunscreen is the only thing available, test a very small amount on your child’s arm (not face) first to see if any rashes or redness occur.
- Use a hypoallergenic, fragrance-free sunscreen on infants and children with particularly sensitive skin. And stick with SPF 15, or 30 at the most. The higher the SPF, the higher the chemical content.
- Avoid using spray-based sunscreens since children might accidentally inhale the mist. If you must use one, spray the sunscreen onto your hand first and then apply it to your child.
*photo credit – https://pixabay.com/en/beach-sand-kids-children-playing-691656/
Alain Ménard, microbiologist, co-founded The Green Beaver Company with biochemist Karen Clark. They were both appalled by the amount of chemicals found in kid’s shampoos, bubble baths and other products. With their new family in mind, they decided to do something about it. They left the pharmaceutical and pesticide industry behind to create healthier natural products. Alain regularly gives seminars on the potential health risks and environmental hazards associated with the chemicals found in everyday personal care products.