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May 22, 2016

Sun protection for babies and children

Since the most harmful effects of sun exposure occur in early childhood, it’s extremely important to use sunscreen and follow sun safety basics right from the start.

Baby’s skin

Babies have sensitive skin that is thinner than adult skin, making them more prone to sunburns. In addition, since they also have more skin relative to their body mass than adults, sunburns can be more serious for them. Possible issues include pain, skin damage, dehydration, fever and an increased risk of skin cancer.

The basics of sun safety

According to the Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA), babies under the age of one should not be exposed to the sun. Here are a few basic rules to put into practice:

  • Keep your baby out of direct sunlight. Stay in the shade, under a tree, parasol, etc.
  • Protect your baby’s head with a wide-brimmed hat.
  • If sun exposure is inevitable, apply a small quantity of sunscreen to exposed body parts – but only starting at the age of six months.
  • Follow the recommendation of the CDA by choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen (protects against both UVA and UVB rays) with an SPF of at least 30. Look for products with the CDA logo.
  • Choose a sunscreen made for babies and children.
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every 2 hours and after swimming or perspiring heavily. Don’t forget sensitive areas, such as the ears and nose.
  • Dress your child in lightweight, tight-weave clothing that covers arms and legs.
  • Have your child wear sunglasses and make sure they provide both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Limit your time outside between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Be especially careful on cloudy days. Up to 80 percent of UV rays can pass through clouds (and fog, for that matter). It’s best to use sunscreen for all outdoor activities.  

A severe sunburn on a baby is a medical emergency. If your child gets a sunburn, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Older children

It goes without saying that these sun safety practices apply to older children, as well.

Turn sun protection into a game. Teach your children the shadow rule: if your shadow is shorter than you are, it’s time to protect yourself from the hot rays of the sun. Make it fun for them by singing a funny song while applying sunscreen.

Remember that children need to use sunscreen from early spring to fall, during recess, outdoor sports or field trips. In the winter, you may also want to consider using sunscreen if your child is going to be outside for a long period of time.

Did you know?

  • Approximately 90 percent of melanomas are due to sunburns and frequent, prolonged sun exposure – a risk factor that’s easy to avoid.
  • Certain medications, including some antibiotics, can make skin more sensitive to the sun.

Pharmacy services

If you have questions about sun protection or your children’s health, talk to your family pharmacists. They are here to help!

Services in pharmacy are the sole responsibility of pharmacist-owners. Only pharmacists are responsible for pharmacy practice. They only provide related services acting under a pharmacist-owner's name.

The Website deals with health-related topics. The information presented has been validated by experts and is accurate at the time of posting. In no way does it replace the opinion of a health care professional. Uniprix Inc. and its affiliated pharmacists accept no liability whatsoever in connection with the information provided on this Website.