With summer officially here and more warm, sunny days ahead, now is a good time to look back at a previous PediaBlog post and review which sunscreens are best to use for children:

The Environmental Working Group’s “Sun Safety Campaign” is a terrific resource for all parents wanting to protect their children from the sun’s harmful rays. Their tips are pretty strict:

  • No Spray Sunscreens (“Given the ease of applying them on squirming kids and hard-to-reach areas, these super-popular aerosolized sunscreens may seem like a dream come true. But they may pose serious inhalation risks. They certainly make it too easy to apply too little or miss a spot.”)
  • No Super-High SPFs (SPF’s above 50 are unnecessary.)
  • No Oxybenzone and Other Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
  • No Retinyl Palmitate (When used in a night cream, this form of vitamin A is supposed to have anti-aging effects. But on sun-exposed skin, retinyl palmitate may speed development of skin tumors and lesions, according to government studies.)
  • No Combined Sunscreen/Bug Repellents
  • No sunscreen towelettes or powders
  • No Tanning Oils


Sunscreen should be applied liberally and frequently, according to the AAP:

  • Use enough sunscreen to cover all exposed areas, especially the face, nose, ears, feet, hands, and even backs of the knees. Rub it in well.
  • Put sunscreen on 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors. It needs time to absorb into the skin.
  • Use sunscreen any time you or your child spend time outdoors. Remember that you can get sunburn even on cloudy days because up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can get through the clouds. Also, UV rays can bounce back from water, sand, snow, and concrete, so make sure you’re protected.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or drying off with a towel. Because most people use too little sunscreen, make sure to apply a generous amount.


Additional sun safety tips from the AAP:

  • Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. Find shade under a tree, an umbrella, or the stroller canopy.
  • When possible, dress yourself and your children in cool, comfortable clothing that covers the body, such as lightweight cotton pants, long-sleeved shirts, and hats.
  • Select clothes made with a tight weave; they protect better than clothes with a looser weave. If you’re not sure how tight a fabric’s weave is, hold it up to see how much light shines through. The less light, the better. Or you can look for protective clothing labeled with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF).
  • Wear a hat with an all-around 3-inch brim to shield the face, ears, and back of the neck.
  • Limit your sun exposure between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm when UV rays are strongest.
  • Wear sunglasses with at least 99% UV protection. Look for child-sized sunglasses with UV protection for your child.
  • Use sunscreen.
  • Make sure everyone in your family knows how to protect his or her skin and eyes. Remember to set a good example by practicing sun safety yourself.


For John Duffy, posting a picture on his blog showing the aftermath of treatment for sun-related skin damage is powerful — and personal:

My face here is proof that ugly can get uglier. This is how I looked a few years ago when doing a topical chemo agent for skin damage. Any place there WAS damage broke out. In the past I covered it with a skin-matched make up I had someone in Macy’s whip up for me. But, this last round I left it alone, to make sure people realize what the sun CAN and DOES do to your skin.
And, the attached link shows a young lady who did the same thing, but is taking some ridicule for it. No, I don’t think she’s going to scare people away from that treatment, but hopefully WILL scare people away from tanning beds and sun worship. Use sunscreen…..put it on daily like you would deodorant and mouthwash….stay out of tanning beds (use spray tanning instead) and reduce your chances of dealing with painful, ugly and deadly skin cancer down the road.


With prom season upon us, Duffy’s last plea should be heeded by all: “Stay out of tanning beds.”

More PediaBlog on sun safety here.