Which sunscreen to choose for children? Is mom and dad’s okay too? From what age should it apply? How many times a day should it be worn? The most frequent doubts of parents and the answers of Maya El Hachem, head of the Dermatology Operating Unit at the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital in Rome
The right sunscreen for children
Vademecum on the use of sun creams for children, with the advice of Maya El Hachem, head of the Dermatology Operating Unit at the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital in Rome.
1 At what age should I start putting sunscreen on my baby?
Since the child is taken to the sea. Notwithstanding that before 6-8 months it is advisable to avoid direct exposure to sunlight and that, up to 24-36 months, babies go exposed to the sun for short periods and in any case only in the early morning or late afternoon.
The cream should be put on the uncovered areas even if the child is in the pram.
2 Do I have to use specific sunscreen for children or is the one that parents use okay?
If the baby’s skin is healthy, that is, he does not have atopic dermatitis or a contact allergy to certain substances, the cream used by mum and dad can also be used (as long as they are tested products), otherwise a specific line is recommended for children or indicated for atopic skin; in case of contact allergy, it is necessary to show at the pharmacy or perfumery the list of substances to which the child is allergic and choose a product that is free of them.
3 Milk, spray, sunscreen – which is the best choice for children?
What you prefer and with which you are most comfortable. In general, milk and cream are more suitable for dry skin, the emulsion for oily skin and there are even lines for acne-prone skin, which are obviously more valid for adolescent skin.
4 What protection factor should be given to children?
Up to 6 years, it is advisable to use very high protection (equivalent to 50+) for the entire holiday period; after 6-7 years, as the skin tans, you can pass to a high protection (30) and then intermediate (15-25).
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5 Is it better for children to use sunscreens with physical or chemical filters?
Physical filters they are mineral substances, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which reflect the sun’s rays. They are indicated for those who have pathologies or take drugs that prohibit exposure to the sun, but they are very limited cases and indicated by the pediatrician.
Otherwise i is fine too chemical filters, that is, with substances that neutralize the harmful effects of UV damage, which are better appreciated cosmetically as they do not leave the white patina typical of physical filters. But most creams contain a mix of the two types of filters, which make them less ‘pasty’ and easier to absorb, as well as guaranteeing more complete protection.
6 I put the cream on the baby: can it stay in the sun without problems?
Even with the cream, the baby cannot stay in the sun all day. The cream is a fundamental protection for the skin, but it is not enough to defend it in the hottest hours of the day, when the sun’s rays are more aggressive and can burn more easily. Even with the right sunscreen, children should avoid being in the sun from 11 to 16.30.
7 How many times a day should children be given sunscreen?
Approximately every 2 hours, because the protective effectiveness decreases over time. And this rule also applies if you don’t take a bath and even if you use a water-resistant cream. And it should be spread on dry and not sweaty skin.
8 In summer, do you need to apply sunscreen to children only if they take them to the beach and wear a bathing suit?
The cream should be used every time the child is in the sun, so even if he spends an afternoon in the gardens or takes a trip to the countryside. If you have shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, for example, just put the cream on your face, legs and arms.