KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Getting kids outdoors to have fun in the sun is healthy, but it’s also important to protect their delicate skin. All sunscreens are not created equal, and with so many options, choosing the best one can be tough.
Dr. Heather Edgley with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital says the worst sunburns they see involve severe blistering, pain, dehydration, fever and chills. Sunburns can happen within just 15 minutes of being in the sun, especially for young children with delicate skin.
Top five tips for choosing sunscreen
- Choose Broad Spectrum – This means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Research shows broad-spectrum sun protection products, when used properly, reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, and are better at preventing sunburn.
- Choose at least SPF 30 – It’s okay to choose a higher number, but there is no proof that anything with an SPF higher than 50 provides any greater protection from sunburn. There is also concern that some people believe a higher SPF means they don’t have to apply as often or that it will allow them to spend more time in the sun without damage, and this is not true.
- Reapply Often – Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours if you are not getting wet. Reapply after swimming, sweating, or drying off with a towel because water resistant is not waterproof. Most people use too little sunscreen, so make sure to apply a generous amount.
- Don’t Use Old Sunscreen – Heat can breakdown active ingredients in sunscreen making it less effective. Sunscreen is good through the expiration date on the bottle only if it’s kept in a cool place. Don’t try to make used sunscreen last until next season.
- Don’t use on babies 6 months of age and younger – Infants need to be kept out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Lightweight, protective clothing, sun hats and shade is best for babies this young.
Any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen. Spray is quick and convenient, but it can be tough to get full coverage and sprays are easy to breathe in which can irritate the lungs. Lotion is easier to see going on and be sure to cover all exposed skin. If you choose to use spray sunscreen, it’s important to still use your hands to rub it in.