News | Published May 11, 2012

Ask the pediatrician

Dear Dr. C.,

What are your recommendations on using sunscreen with young children?

In the last Parents Need To Know newsletter, we discussed an article that talked about sunlight and its possible positive effects for kids with allergies and eczema, likely through increased vitamin D production. As we head into the summer months, we also have to look at the bad effects of the sun on children's skin. Along with the obvious concern of sunburn, the potential for skin cancer from too much sun exposure has certainly come to the forefront of medical advice.

Infants from Birth to Six Months: Sunscreen is not recommended for this age group, mostly because it doesn't work very well for their thin, immature skin. These babies need to stay out of the sun as much as possible.

Young Children Older than 6 months: Sunscreen is recommended for use and should be at least SPF 30. Sunscreen needs frequent reapplication, at least every 2 hours and should be reapplied after being in the water, even for those that claim to be waterproof. I don't recommend any particular brand over another, some sunscreens can be irritating to some kids and not others so you have to try some different ones if your kids have rash or irritation from one.

Other tips:

  • Apply a generous amount and help kids with their sunscreen so they don't forget areas!
  • Avoid the peak sun of the day (10 am-2 pm) whenever possible.
  • For best effect, put on sunscreen 15 minutes prior to going outside

Hope this helps!

Dr. C.