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A Mom’s Life: What’s the right balance between sun, protection?


When I was a kid we kept a tiny canister of sunscreen in the medicine cabinet. I think it was an SPF 8. My brother and I put it on our noses when they were already red, hoping to keep them from getting more burned as we spent our summer afternoons at the town pool.

And, I believe we had that same container of thick, goopy cream for most of my younger years.

Though we know much more about sun protection these days, I still see red, peeling children running around, getting even more rays. I also see lots of parents putting their kids in swim shirts, hats and slathering them with a thick coat of SPF 75 every 20 minutes.

So, what’s the right balance when it comes to sunscreen and allowing kids to get summer-tanned skin?

I checked in with the experts at Mercy Central Pediatric Clinic and with the American Academy of Pediatrics. Here is some of their best wisdom when it comes to sun protection.

Dr. Nader Ajluni said even if you’re outside less than 30 minutes, you should apply sunscreen on your children. If they’re in direct sun, it’s easy to get burned quickly. “Skin cancer as an adult can be prevented by using sunscreen on children,” he said.

The AAP directs parents to pick a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher and that also says it is “broad-spectrum,” meaning it blocks UVB and UVA rays. The organization recommends sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide for sensitive areas such as a child’s nose, ears, cheeks and shoulders. Those sunscreens can often still be seen after you rub them in, but they can be found in fun colors.

When it comes to sunscreen, the experts say everyone needs it, even if you already have dark skin. And, you shouldn’t wait until you’re out on the playground or in the swimming pool. You should put it on 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors to give it time to absorb into the skin. And it should go on every exposed area of a child’s body, including hands and feet.

Sunscreen wears off from sweating, swimming and even just soaking into the skin, so you should reapply every two hours.

My oldest child’s first sunburn didn’t come while we were out on a warm, sunny day. It happened when we were sledding. UV rays really bounce back off the snow, so remember to keep sunscreen handy even in the winter.

Ajluni said parents should apply sunscreen until their child is old enough to do it themselves and to remember to reapply as needed.

“There is no universal age for self-administration,” he said “It depends on the child’s level of maturity.

To get your family a better deal on sun lotions and sprays, look for store brands versus costly name-brands such as Banana Boat. Compare labels to be sure they include the same safety ingredients. Target has a new line that’s similar in quality to Coppertone but is more affordable. Or, you may like the brand No-Ad because it’s not advertised and has a much lower price tag.

Families who are out in the sun every day can also save on larger packs of sunscreen at stores like Costco and Sam’s Club. And, check store and manufacturer websites for coupons.

For example, at www.neutrogena.com you can find at least $1 off of their sun products under “special offers.” If you’re considering dollar store sun lotions you may need to do some research to make sure they have the right ingredients to adequately protect your family’s skin.

While sun protection can get pricey, don’t keep a bottle of sunscreen around forever. Most have expiration dates, and note that your lotion or spray might break down faster if it’s been stored in a hot car or beach bag. Replace bottles at least every two years.

Personally, I find applying sunscreen to two toddlers to be one of those difficult but necessary chores, kind of like brushing their teeth. I’m especially thankful for the new no-rub sprays that go on quick and dry super-fast, otherwise I’d be spending a lot of time chasing down a couple of little boys and trying to rub in lotion.

Source:  desmoinesregister.com