Select the Right Sunscreen

When it comes to sun protection, the options are endless.  Does your kid need SPF 30 or 70?  What's the difference between UVA and UVB?  Quit worrying!  Just follow these guidelines from Parents advisor Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D., a pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital.

  • Look for the term "broad spectrum" on the label.  That means the sunscreen will protect against both UVA (skin-damaging) and UVB (burning) rays.
  • Pick one with SPF 30.  Sunscreens that have a higher SPF don't significantly increase protection, says Dr. Swanson.
  • Go for a mineral sunscreen.  The active ingredient should be zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.  These are physical barriers and are less likely to be absorbed into skin.
  • Try to avoid sunscreen for babies under 6 months old.  Instead, keep them out to the sun and use a hat, sunglasses, and clothing as cover.
  • Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before sun exposure.  If your child is playing or swimming, reapply every one to two hours.
  • Avoid spray sunscreens.  It's hard to know how thickly you're applying them, and more research is still needed on the possible risks from inhalation, says Dr. Swanson.


Parents May 2016


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