Hello dr Irwin, I look forward to all the information and recommendations on the subject of sun protection! I have implemented many of your suggestions, but I would like to hear your recommendations for children. I live in Florida and have a new baby (just 5 months old) whose skin I want to protect. Many sun protection labels say they are not recommended for anyone under the age of 2, but I think a physical sunscreen that is high in zinc would be better than sunburn. I know we can buy SPF clothes for the beach and play under a tint, but I feel like I need to put sunscreen on him. Do you also recommend covering him with sunscreen every day for errands, etc., even when he is at home? I always put something on my face, arms and chest, but I haven’t started using it every day. Thank you for your advice!
It feels like the sun is getting more intense, doesn’t it! So your question is even more topical. And we mothers / fathers really care about our children’s health. Here are some thoughts for you. There’s no science I know about any of the following, so I’ll mix the science with some common sense. My kids were pretty much okay with all of this … until they reached certain teenage years. And then we may have to choose our battles and let them figure out certain things after gently reminding them about 100 times. 🙂
Babies and children before running:
In my opinion, putting sunscreen on babies under 1 year or so is not a good idea. And yes, zinc is best when you really need it. The problem is, most sunscreens have some chemicals in the base that you may not want to apply all over. That being said, there are a number of good organic skin care lines out there for babies, and some of them do sunscreen. Try Erbaviva’s baby sunscreen. Light protective clothing is also great, and a small hat. Clothing doesn’t necessarily have to be of the official SPF type, especially if you mainly keep him / her in the shade. Babies can get heat stroke, so watch out for signs when it’s hot.
Babies and children after they are 2 years old
It becomes more difficult when walking, because they want to go everywhere! But they’re bigger too, that helps. We used to have these little “sun suits” for them. They were so SIMPLE and practically no fight with them back then. Simply close the zipper, apply sunscreen to their little hands, feet and faces and you’re done. Lightweight and quick drying, these things are awesome. Try a hat too. Some kids just won’t tolerate it, but most will. Try the Sun-and-Surf Bodysuit at LLBean or the Hanna Anderson Sunblock Rash Guard Suit. “Bucket” hats are great too.
Children from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m.
At this age, many will still wear sun suits. We used to call them “surfer suits” or rash guards to make them sound cooler and get better acceptance. But some like sunscreen better. Kids like the sprays … but most people can’t apply them evenly so be careful with them. Spray on first and rub in well to ensure even coverage. Use higher zinc (10-20 percent) sunscreens whenever you can, as zinc is the only sunscreen ingredient that is really good at blocking UVA.
I hope it helps,