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Just a reminder! Thanks for visiting us at Shots Hurt Less Blog! This is just a reminder that the information on this site is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should never replace the recommendations of your doctor - check with your doctor if you have any specific questions! We will always honor and protect patient confidentiality, and we ask that you all do the same, if you choose to comment on our posts. Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday
Jul112012

FYI: Smart Sunscreen Shopping

It can be slightly overwhelming staring down an aisle full of bottles of sunscreen and trying to discern which is the best for your children.

First, a brief primer on how sunscreen works:  Organic filters absorb harmful UV rays and are sometimes known as ‘absorbers’, or ‘chemical’ sunscreens. Inorganic filters act to reflect UV radiation away from the skin and are known as “physical or reflective” sunscreens. It can be helpful to think of organic filters as sponges, mopping up the UV radiation, and inorganic filters as mirrors, bouncing UV straight back off the skin

Now, here are two general rules of thumb to help you be a smart sunscreen shopper:

Rule 1: You do not need a sunscreen especially for children (although I recently found on a trip to the beach, that tear free options can be a lifesaver if your child is wiggly like mine and you find sunscreening a moving target to be challenging).

Rule 2: More expensive does not necessarily mean better quality.  According to Consumer Reports, several of the highest rated sunscreens are from Target and Walgreens (in fact, one of the dermatologists I trained under used to tell us all that Wal-mart brand was his favorite sunscreen of them all)

And now, my advice for what to look for when shopping for sunscreen for children:

- Broad Sepctrum UVA AND UVB protection:  There are actually 3 types of UV radiation (UVA, UVB, and UVC).  Fortunately, UVC rays do not penetrate the earth’s atmosphere, so we only really need to protect against UVA and UVB.

UVA accounts for 95% of the UV radiation reaching the sun’s surface. UVA radiation causes AGING, penetrating the skin more deeply than UVB.  In addition to it’s well established association with wrinkling and aging of the skin, just recently more studies have demonstrated the critical role UVA plays in the initiation of developing skin cancers. Common Ingredients for UVA Protection: Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, and Avoebenzone (Parsol 1789) or Mexoryl (Ecamsule) and in order to achieve protection from the full UVA spectrum of radiation, ideally you should choose a sunscreen with both a physical sunscreen = zinc or titanium + a chemical = avoebenzone or oxybenzone or Mexoryl.

UVB radiation causes BURNING, causing damage to the more superficial epidermal skin layers and plays a key role in the development of skin cancer. Common Ingredients for UVB Protection: Octyl methoxycinnamate, Octyl salicylate, Octocrylene

- Choose a SPF of 15-30:  SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor” and is a measure of UVB protection only. If your skin would normally burn after 10 minutes in the sun, for example, wearing an SPF 15 sunscreen would theoretically allow you to stay in the sun for 150 minutes (10 x 15) without burning. Most experts including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Dermatologists recommend using SPF of  at least 15 or 30 (which blocks 94 or 97% of UVB rays respectively).  The small increases achieved with SPF levels higher than 45, only negligibly increase your URB protection.

- Water resistant. Even if you aren't going swimming, if your child is outside, he will likely be sweating, so a water resistant might provide better protection than a regular sunscreen. And remember, even if the sunscreen says it’s water-resistant, remember you MUST REAPPLY EVERY 2 HOURS to maintain protection

- Hypoallergenic for children with eczema or atopic dermatitis: After purchasing a new sunscreen, apply a little to your child’s wrist and monitor for a reaction before using it on their entire body (especially important if your child has eczema/atopic dermatitis or sensitive skin) If your child gets a rash from his sunscreen, be sure to review the sunscreen ingredient list and choose a different one next time.Here’s a link to nice summary sunscreen and their various ingredients

http://www.consumersearch.com/sunscreen/review

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:

- Children under 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight:

  • Seek the shade (from a tree, an umbrella, a stroller canopy)
  • Avoid the intense sun from 10am to 4pm
  • Use rashgaurds, hats, and light blankets to protect their skin from sun exposure

- After 6 months of age, choose a BROAD SPECTRUM sunscreen of SPF 15 or greater.

- Apply sunscreen correctly:

  • Apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going outdoors to allow the sunscreen to be fully absorbed
  • Apply enough!  Studies show the vast majority of people apply less than half of the recommended amount to achieve a certain level of SPF protection.  For an average sized adult, apply 1 oz (or 6 Tablespoons) of sunscreen to cover the entire body.
  • Remember you can get sunburned even on cloudy days!
  • Reapply every 2 hours!

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Reader Comments (3)

Good tips! I thought I'd share my new favorite sunscreen for my kids' faces- "Baby Blanket Sunscreen Spray Lotion for Babies SPF/FPS 45+" It comes in a pink spray bottle. I squirt it onto my fingers & then put it on their faces & necks. It's really easy to rub in & hasn't given us any trouble with stinging.

July 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Great article. You mentioned finding a sunscreen with a chemical such as oxybenzone in it. I have read that the chemical is associated with health concerns. Is there a better alternative?

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMom of two

Thanks for your question! It can be frustrating (and confusing) to wade through all the information out there warning about various components in sunscreens. But, rest assured, the initial concerns about oxybenzone were raised after studies in rats who were FED oxybenzone (not having it applied to their skin which would clearly result in different amounts of absorbed oxybenzone). There was a very nice article published about 2 years ago which showed that, in order to achieve the same doses through applying oxybenzone on your skin, a person would need to apply 30 mL twice per day for a little over 34 years or 30 mL every day for 69.3 years. As an aside, a normal sunscreen application uses about 30 mL for an average sized adult.
The authors of this paper concluded that it is essentially impossible to obtain the same dose of oxybenzone the rats were given by applying oxybenzone contianing sunscreen to your skin.
I agree with the following statements released by the American Academy of Dermatology:
Oxybenzone is one of the few FDA-approved ingredients that provides effective broad-spectrum protection from UV radiation, and has been approved for use since 1978. “Available peer-reviewed scientific literature and regulatory assessments from national and international bodies do not support a link between oxybenzone in sunscreen and hormonal alterations, or other significant health issues in humans,."
If you have other questions - please let us know!

May 22, 2013 | Registered CommenterDr. Barry

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