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Your Guide to Sunscreen for All Ages

Children of all ages should be kept out of the sun between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm, when UVA and UVB rays are the strongest. Dress your child in long-sleeved, cotton clothing, and in a fabric with a tight weave, since these protect against the sun better than clothes with a looser weave. Clothing with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) will provide additional protection - look for clothing with a UPF of 30 or higher.

Additionally, make sure your child wears a hat, preferably a wide-brimmed bonnet or hat that covers her face, neck, and ears, and sunglasses with at least 99 percent UV protection.

When applying sunscreen, use enough to cover all exposed areas, including your child's face, nose, ears, feet, and hands and give chemical-based products at least 30 minutes to absorb into your child's skin before going in the sun. Choose a product with an SPF of 15 or higher, and reapply sunscreen every two hours, even if it's a cloudy day, and even if the product is waterproof. Your child will most likely be active when outside and sunscreen can wear off from swimming, sweating, or simply soaking into the skin.

In addition, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends the following age-specific sun protection guidelines.

Babies

  • Since their skin is too sensitive for sunscreen, it should not be used on children under six months and they should be kept out of direct sunlight.
  • Use removable mesh shields on your car windows to keep UVA rays from penetrating the glass. UV film also blocks almost 100 percent of UV rays from entering your car, and can be applied to your windows without reducing visibility.
  • Use a stroller with a sun-protecting cover.
  • The same guidelines should be followed for babies over six months, but small amounts of sunscreen can be applied to exposed areas, such as your baby's hands. Look for a tear-free formula to avoid stinging if it gets in your baby's eyes.

    Younger Children

  • Apply SPF 15 or higher to exposed areas. Water-resistant, spray-on products are good for active children who don't want to sit still while you apply a lotion.
  • Work with your child's daycare or school to ensure sun safety precautions are taken when outside.
  • Teach your child the importance of good sunscreen habits.
  • Teens

  • Talk to your teen about the risks of tanning booths. Remind her that UVA rays are the dominant tanning ray, so it is important to remember that although a tan may not hurt, it can eventually lead to skin cancer.
  • Encourage the use of protective sunglasses.


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