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Pediatric Associates of Livingston

Safety Outdoors: Sunscreen

Sun Facts

  1. The sun is strongest from 10 AM until 4 PM
  2. Clouds do not totally block ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) light. Sun protection is required even on cloudy days.
  3. Sand, water, cement, roads, and snow reflect and intensify the sun’s rays.
  4. Tanning beds do not provide a protective base tan or a “safe” tan.

Sun Safety for Everyone

  1. It is best to minimize sun exposure between 10 AM – 4 PM.
  2. When choosing a sunscreen, look for the words “broad-spectrum” on the label. It means that the sunscreen will screen out both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays.
  3. Choose a water-resistant or waterproof sunscreen.
  4. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and after swimming and vigorous exercise.
  5. Zinc oxide is a very effective sun block agent. It can be used on the nose, cheeks, tops of the ears, and the shoulders.
  6. Use a sun protection factor, SPF, of at least 15.The higher the SPF, the more UVB protection the sunscreen has.
  7. Look for the new “star” rating system on the label:
    • One star is low UVA protection.
    • Two stars is medium protection.
    • Three stars is high protection.
    • Four stars is the highest UVA protection available in an over-the-counter sunscreen product.
  8. Rub sunscreen in well, make sure to cover all exposed areas, especially the face, nose, ears, feet and hands.
  9. Put on sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors—it needs time to work on the skin.
  10. Everyone should use a sunscreen including lip balm.
  11. Wear protective clothing. A new white t-shirt has sun protection factor (SPF) of only 5. Darker, tightly woven clothing is better. A hat with a 3” brim is optimal to protect the face and neck. A baseball hat does not protect most of the face or any of the neck.
  12. Sunglasses capable of blocking 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays are recommended.
  13. Products that combine sunscreens and insect repellant together should not be used, as the insect repellant should not be applied as often as sunscreen. If sunscreens and insect repellants are used concomitantly, sunscreen should be applied first, followed by application of the insect repellant.

Sun Safety

Babies under six months

  1. The two main recommendations from the AAP to prevent sunburn are to avoid sun exposure, and dress infants in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and brimmed hats that shade the neck to prevent sunburn. However when adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF to small areas, such as the infants face and the back of the hands. If an infant gets sunburn, apply cold compresses to the affected area.

For All Other Children

  1. The first, and best, line of defense against the sun is covering up. Wear a hat with a three-inch brim or a bill facing forward, sunglasses (look for sunglasses that block 99-100% of ultraviolet rays), and cotton clothing with a tight weave.
  2. Choose sunscreen that is made for children, preferably waterproof. Before covering your child, test the sunscreen on your child’s back for an allergic reaction. Apply carefully around the eyes, avoiding eyelids. If a rash develops, wash off and do not sue again.