By Kyle Gordon
The days of shielding your child’s sensitive skin from the bitter cold of winter are now behind you, but their delicate epidermis still requires the same TLC during the sweltering days of summer.
According to Dr. Paul Cohen, a dermatologist in Toronto, infants under the age of six months should be kept out of the sun. At this age, the baby’s skin is too sensitive for conventional sunscreens. Instead, he suggests keeping your baby in the shade or placing a UV-protective blanket over your baby’s stroller.
After six months, Cohen recommends looking for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide which create a barrier from broad-spectrum UVA and UVB rays. These UV blockers are not absorbed into the skin and are less likely to cause skin irritation. Brands such as Ombrelle, Roc, La Roche-Posay, Avene and Neutrogena’s Sensitive Skin line, which are traditionally geared toward adults, tend to contain fewer chemicals and are easier on children’s tender skin, says Cohen.
During the hot and humid days of summer, it can be a challenge to keep your little ones doused in sunscreen. With the constant sweating and an inherent affinity for splashing in the water, Cohen reminds parents that reapplying your child’s sunscreen every few hours–one containing an SPF of 15 or more–is essential.
But sunscreen is only part of the sun safety picture. Since infants and toddlers can burn in less than 15 minutes, here are some other tips from Health Canada on keeping your children protected from the sun.
Sun Safety Tips:
Even with all the advice and protective clothing on the market, the sun may still harm your child’s sensitive skin. Dr. Lyn Guenther, a dermatologist in London, Ont., says sunburn can appear on children’s skin a few hours after sun exposure. If a parent suspects that their child has been in the sun for too long, she suggests applying vitamin E directly to the exposed area to minimize potential discomfort.
“Sunstroke can also be a worry with sun exposure,” Guenther says. Young children are particularly susceptible to dehydration, but precautionary measures can be taken. Guenther encourages parents to keep their children hydrated by providing lots of fluids throughout the day.
UV—WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
UVA rays produce an immediate tan. They are also the cause of aging and wrinkling of the skin.
UVB rays are responsible for delayed tanning, burning and aging of the skin. With prolonged exposure they may cause skin cancer.
UV Index Scale
The UV Index is reported regularly on local TV weather networks, radio and newspapers. Here’s a guide: