Should Children Use Different Sunscreen Than Adults?

It’s important to protect yourself, along with your children, but do you have to use different sunscreens to do so?

If you apply the right sunscreen, the answer is no.

But, what qualifies a sunscreen to be appropriate for everyone, regardless of ages?

To start, the US Food and Drug Administration recommends buying products labeled with at least SPF 15, and the American Academy of Dermatology puts the bar at SPF 30.

Of these two, it’s best to stay cautious and use an SPF 30 product, as these products will protect longer.

Dr. Lisa Garner, a private-practice dermatologist and a clinical professor in dermatology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, explains how labeling of these products tells a more vivid story.

“If you look at ingredients in sunscreen, you really don’t see many differences in the sunscreens that are marketed towards children versus the ones that are marketed toward adults — except perhaps in the fragrances.”

Different products are scented specifically for children to admire, but the scents are not what really matters.

Dr. Eleni Linos, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of California claims, “Essentially, the SPF value is what’s worth focusing on.”

Sunscreen provides a shield against harmful UV rays, which can cause sunburns, premature aging, and skin cancer.

The higher the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) the more of this radiation gets stopped in its tracks.

Linos explains that SPF refers only to protection from UVB rays (burning rays), not UVA rays.

To protect against both, “you want to make sure that you’re choosing a sunscreen that has ‘broad spectrum’ on it.”

These products can also deceptive, as the FDA claims “no sunscreens are ‘waterproof.’ All sunscreens eventually wash off.”

However, some products market themselves as “water-resistant” or “very water-resistant,” which just means the SPF on the label stays true to itself underwater for 40-80 minutes.

It is still necessary to reapply sunscreen to avoid damaging UV rays.

Experts in this field recommend applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen thirty minutes before going outside and reapplying frequently (every two hours or soon after sweating or playing in the water; whichever comes first).

To protect babies younger than 6 months old, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends when it’s called for, “sunscreens containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide” as these products are “less likely to irritate a baby’s sensitive skin.”

According to this academy, products containing other compounds, such as Oxybenzone, have also been deemed safe to use and FDA-approved for kids 6 months and older.

Experts recommend lotions over spray, citing a risk of inhalation and an easier way to gauge whether you’ve applied the right amount or not.

Dr. Garner commented with, “My friends and their children, they love the sprays. They’re easier to put on. But if you don’t rub them in, you frequently miss areas.”

Dawn Holman, a behavioral scientist in CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, has said, “With lotions, you know how much you are applying to your skin, and that’s important because you want to know that you are putting on an adequate amount to protect your skin.”

Dr. Linos gives the general advice that, “As long as it has an SPF factor of 30 or above. I tell patients to just go for a product they like, because that means they’ll use it more often.”

Overall, sunscreen is typically acceptable for everyone to use, but after going through this list it is highly advised to use a Broad Spectrum, SPF 30 sunscreen product containing Zinc Oxide as its main ingredient.

(Original Article:

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