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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sun Safety Tips for Babies and Kids

The good news is that most parents now a days are educated about the harmful effects of the sun.  And, for the most part, parents are vigilant about using sunscreen on their children especially when out in the sun for prolonged amounts of time.  Living near the beach, we spend so much time outside and can even get a suntan in the winter!  Before I found the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG)  website, I thought that all sunscreens were created equal.  I was very wrong.  If fact, some of the most popular and widely-used sunscreens were rated poorly either for effectiveness or harmful ingredients.  

Did you know that babies’ delicate skin is considerably more permeable than adult skin?  So, they could be absorbing up to three times the amount of toxins than an adult using the same application would absorb.  A few blistering sunburns can as much as double the chances of developing serious forms of skin cancer later in life.  There has been new research done indicating that a form of vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) when applied to the skin in the sunlight, may actually speed the development of certain skin tumors.  Even more troubling, is that vitamin A is added to 41% of all sunscreens!  On the flip side, it is just not practical to NOT wear sunscreen.  

So, the next time you shop for your child’s sunscreen keep the EWG’s tips handy in order to pick one of the healthier, more effective ones.  It is always a good idea to test whatever sunscreen you choose to a small area to see if any allergic reaction occurs.  The American Academy of Pediatrics says it is best to keep infants (6 months or younger) out of the sun as much as possible.  Although my pediatrician recommended a small amount of sunscreen could be used in the event that shade couldn’t be found. 

So here are a few tips to keep in mind while enjoying your summer in the sun: 
  • Wear protective clothing, sunglasses and a hat whenever possible
  • Re-apply sunscreen often and/or after swimming
  • Avoid mid-day sun
  • Find shade whenever possible
  • Make sunscreen a habit
  • Be a good role model to your children 
If you haven’t already, check out the EWG’s website…there is a wealth of information there!  http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/

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