Take a moment to make sure your family has a safe and healthy summer!
Sunny days are here! Need help choosing a sunscreen?
Enjoy the outdoors while protecting your family from sunburns now and from skin cancer later in life. Read about sunburns and sunscreens at healthychildren.org .
Are chemical sunscreen ingredients dangerous? Some experts suggest avoiding oxybenzone and avobenzone- two active ingredients that may have effects on the endocrine (hormone) system. Additionally, a recent report suggested these and other chemical sunscreen ingredients are found in small amounts in the blood (absorbed through the skin) after an application of sunscreen. There is no clear evidence yet of harmful health effects from this, but some people feel more comfortable avoiding these chemical sunscreen ingredients.
However, Consumer Reports testing suggested that a sunscreen product with "mineral" sunscreen ingredients (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide), and chemical sunscreens (check the label for active ingredients) that is rated SPF 40 or greater will give you the best chance of actually getting least an SPF 30, the minimum level many dermatologists recommend.
So, what to do?!
- Use clothing as your sun protection when possible. Swimshirts or rashguards and fuller coverage swimsuits (with SPF ratings) as well as sun-hats can reduce the amount of sunscreen you need and save you the time and hassle of reapplication.
- For younger children (less than 2 years old) and those children of any age with very sensitive skin - choose a mineral based sunscreen. Avoid ones with too many essential oils, "botanical ingredients" or fragrance/scents. Some popular brands include Neutrogena Baby, Blue Lizard Baby or Blue Lizard Sensitive, Aveeno Baby, and Coppertone Baby but be sure to look at the ingredients yourself.
- For older children and those with less sensitive you could consider a combination sunscreen with BOTH chemical and mineral/physical blockers. You might avoid aerosol sprays, as inhalation of these is likely not healthy. Blue Lizard (you could consider Blue Lizard Kids or Blue Lizard Sport) is a brand many dermatologists recommend but there are many others that have a zinc oxide/titanium dioxide base with just one or two additional chemical blockers. Of course, you could also stick with a purely mineral based sunscreen for older kids and adults if that works best for your family.
- Consider sunscreen "sticks" for the face- these are easy to use around the eyes! Neutrogena Baby makes a good zinc oxide-based option.
- If you forget your favorite sunscreen and need to use one with more chemical blockers than you usually use - do not worry. Limited use of these will not harm your child, and it is better to avoid a burn!
What about babies under 6 months old? Can I use sunscreen on my infant?
You can use sunscreen on your baby- however, there should be few occasions where you would need to. Infants do not regulate their temperature well, and they can get dehydrated easily. For this reason, babies should be kept mostly in the shade and wear light, breathable clothing to provide sun protection. Babies should not be in bright sun without frequent cool breaks inside or in the shade and feeds (breast milk or formula only for babies under 6 months!). If your baby is in the shade and their little toes are sticking out and you want to use a touch of sunscreen, choose a sensitive skin or "baby" sunscreen that is mineral based (see above).
The American Academy of Dermatology also has lots of sunscreen information with answers to "FAQ's."
Ticks are here!
Ticks are here! Are you checking your child for ticks in the evening AND in the morning?
Next step: Learn what to do if your child has a tick bite and how to prevent tick bites on our Ticks and Lyme Disease information page.
What kind of a tick was it? Check out these resources for Tick Identification, and this one from the CDC .
Read more about Choosing an Insect Repellent for Your Child at HealthyChildren.org, Environmental Working Group and Consumer Reports.
Please take a look at these resources from healthychildren.org to keep your children safe while near water this summer.