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Much of the sun damage a person receives happens before the age of 18. Sun damage is a risk factor for premature skin aging as well as skin cancer. Much of this damage can be guarded against with sun protection products and protective clothing. These days a number of sunscreens are available for kids of all ages to give them the protection they need to maintain healthy skin.
There are two types of rays that can damage a child's skin. UVB rays are the ones that cause skin redness and sunburn. All sunscreens protect against UVB rays. The other type of ray is called UVA. UVA rays penetrate beneath the surface of the skin and cause deeper damage that you can't see. It's these rays that contribute most to skin aging and skin cancer. Not all sunscreens block UVA rays. That's why it's important to look for one that is "broad spectrum," meaning it shields against both types of rays. Most experts recommend choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater.
A baby or child's skin is more easily irritated than an adult's. In addition, some children have skin conditions like eczema that increases the risk for irritation. Ingredients like PABA and benzephenones in some sunscreen products can irritate a child's skin. As a parent, you may also be concerned about the safety of some of the chemicals in sunscreens. One option is to choose a mineral-based sunscreen. These sunscreens contain zinc oxide or titanium oxide that reflect the sun's rays away from the skin. Unlike chemical sunscreens, mineral sunscreens stay on the surface of the skin and aren't absorbed.
A variety of sunscreens are available for the special needs of children and babies including lotions, spray-on products and sunscreen sticks you rub on. Children that spend lots of time playing in the sun and kids who swim can benefit from a water resistant sunscreen that won't come off as soon as they hit the water. Kids and babies with sensitive skin are best protected with a sunscreen that's hypoallergenic and free of potentially irritating chemicals and fragrances. Sunscreen manufacturers know parents are concerned about what touches their child's skin. That's why more sunscreens these days are free of chemicals that could cause irritation.
Sunscreens are made for children and babies six months of age and older. What about babies under six months of age? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping children under six months of age out of direct sunlight and protecting them when they're outdoors with sun protective clothing and sunglasses.
Babies and children need sun protection just as adults do. Sunburn early in life increases the risk for skin cancer and premature aging later on. Keep babies under six months of age out of the sun and make sure older babies and children are protected with sunscreen made for children, sun protective clothing and sunglasses. Explore the wide variety of sun care products for children at Walgreens and feel confident about your sun protection purchase.