Sunscreen Safety 101: A Parent’s Guide to Prevent Sunburn

May 30, 2023 | Children's Health

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As the school year ends, parents and kiddos alike are planning for beach trips and pool days.

To get ready for this fun in the sun, Grant Clinkingbeard, MD, pediatrician with Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health in Covington, reviews some commonly asked questions about sunburn prevention.

Does My Baby Need Sunscreen?

Sunscreen is not recommended for sunburn prevention in babies under 6 months. They should be kept in the shade and wear clothing with full body coverage when in the sun. A small amount of sunscreen is acceptable for use on areas that cannot be covered (e.g. face and hands).

For babies older than 6 months, yes! If you’re going outside, be sure to apply sunscreen!

What Type of Sunscreen Should I Use?

Sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or higher is safest for children. Choose a sunscreen that is water-resistant and has “broad-spectrum” coverage.

Remember that even if a sunscreen is labeled “waterproof” or “water-resistant,” it can still be partially washed off or wiped off with a towel.

Spray and liquid sunscreen are both acceptable, as long as they are applied appropriately.

Any Tips for Applying Sunscreen?

No matter the type, apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going outside to allow time for it to be absorbed. And reapply every 2 hours, after swimming or after drying off with a towel.

Spray-on sunscreen:

  • It can be hard to know how much sunscreen is enough when spraying. One good rule of thumb is to apply it until the skin glistens.
  • Try your best to ensure that the spray sunscreen isn’t inhaled.
  • Rub it in afterwards to ensure that no spots are missed.

Liquid sunscreen:

  • Be sure to use enough sunscreen to cover all parts of the body that are not covered by clothing.

Should My Child Wear Sunglasses?

Yes! Your child should wear sunglasses with 99% UV protection to protect their retinas!

What Should I Do If My Child Gets Sunburned?

Like any burn, sunburns can differ in severity. If a sunburn is mild, it can likely be managed at home with cool compresses, a cool bath and over-the-counter pain relievers.

If a sunburn causes blistering, headache, fever or other symptoms, call your pediatrician to discuss how to best care for it.

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