Walking down the sunscreen aisle at a drug store can be a little overwhelming because of all the choices. How do you know which one is right for you and your child?
Sunscreens combine different ingredients that help protect the skin from both types of UV radiation: UVA and UVB. UVB radiation is the type of radiation that causes burns, while UVA causes wrinkling and sagging. Sunscreen should be used to prevent sunburns which can lead to skin cancer later in life.
How to Choose the Right Sunscreen
The effectiveness of sunscreen depends on the SPF, which is the sun protection factor. SPF is a measure of the sunscreen’s ability to prevent skin from UVB radiation. Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher will protect the skin for 15 times longer than if you don’t wear sunscreen. However, most dermatologists recommend that people use sunscreens with SPF 30.
SPF is a form of chemical block, since it is a compound of many chemicals that absorb sun radiation. There are also physical block sunscreens that combine natural minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Physical block may leave a white residue or feel greasy, but many physicians recommend physical blocks for people with sensitive skin as well as children since chemical blocks are more likely to deteriorate from constant sun exposure overtime. Other things to keep in mind when picking out a sunscreen include:
Do I want to protect myself from UVA AND UVB radiation?
What happens if I get wet after I apply the sunscreen?
Choose a water-resistant sunscreen if you’ll be exercising outside or in water. Reapply sunscreen after swimming or getting wet, because the protection only lasts for about 40 minutes when wet.
When should I apply the sunscreen?
You should apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outside.
Can sunscreen be used in children under 6 months of age?
Yes, but try to use it on small areas of the body only, and use physical screens (shading and clothing).
For more information please see www.healthychildren.org.
Bottom line, if you and your child are going outside you should always put sunscreen on. If you have any specific questions about what sunscreen is best or your child has specific conditions you want to run by a doctor, contact one of our New Providence pediatricians by calling (908) 508-0400