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Close up of hand with sunscreen, child blurred in the backgroun

Best Sun Protection for Kids

Author: Children's Specialty Group, Dr. Judith Williams
Published Date: Monday, June 4, 2018

By Dr. Judith Williams, Pediatric Dermatologist at CHKD

Buying the right sunscreen can be confusing, but protecting your child's skin now will reduce his or her chances of getting skin cancer later in life.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen

  • Look for the label that says “broad spectrum.” Broad spectrum sunscreen protects the skin from both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) sun rays. Both can cause sunburn and skin damage that can lead to skin cancer.
  • Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 50 or higher. Remember that SPF is a measure of how much longer it will take your skin to burn compared to wearing no sunscreen.
  • Make sure it says "water resistant.”
  • Physical sun blockers (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) may be safer than chemical ingredients.

Applying Sunscreen

  • Apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going outdoors.
  • Apply a generous amount of sunscreen over all exposed areas. Don’t forget the ears, lips, back of the neck, tops of the feet and scalp.
  • Always rub in sunscreen sticks or sprays to ensure an even coating. Using a sunscreen cream on the face will help prevent your child from breathing in the spray.
  • Spray sunscreen is flammable - DO NOT apply near a grill or open fire.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every 1 to 2 hours and especially after swimming or sweating.

Remember, NO sunscreen can block 100 percent of UV radiation. Check the expiration date on old sunscreen bottles. Sunscreens can break down over time and offer little to no sun protection. If possible, keep children younger than 6 months out of the sun, or be sure they are dressed in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts and brimmed hats that shade the neck. If your child develops a sunburn, follow these first aid tips.

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About Children's Specialty Group

About Children's  Specialty Group Children's Specialty Group is the only pediatric multi-specialty practice serving southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. The physicians of Children's Specialty Group base their practices at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters and serve as faculty in the Department of Pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School. Learn more about our specialists here.