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Fun in the Sun: Keep your Baby Safe

Your baby, sun burns, and skin cancer

The sun is the main cause of skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States. Skin cancer can and does occur in children and young adults, but most of the people who get skin cancer are older. Sun exposure in early childhood and adolescence contributes to skin cancer.

Your baby’s skin is very delicate and it’s up to you to protect it. Sunburns hurt and can also cause dehydration and fever. Too many sunburns and too much sun exposure over the years can cause not only skin cancer, but also wrinkles and cataracts of the eyes. It is very important to protect babies and children from sunburn.

  • A baby’s sensitive skin and will sunburn more easily than an adult.
  • It’s up to you to protect your baby.

Protecting your baby

Follow these simple rules to protect your baby from sunburns now and from skin cancer later in life:

  • Babies under 6 months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight.
  • Dress your baby in clothing that covers the body.
  • Select clothes made of tightly woven fabrics.
  • When using a cap with a bill, make sure the bill is facing forward.
  • Child-sized sunglasses with UV protection for your child’s eyes.
  • The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. Try to keep your baby out of the sun during these hours.
  • Use sun protection even on cloudy days.

Sunscreen for your baby

Choose a sunscreen made for children. For babies under 6 months of age, sunscreen may be used on small areas of the body such as the face and the backs of the hands if adequate clothing and shade are not available. For babies over 6 months of age, test the sunscreen on your baby’s back for a reaction before applying it all over. If a rash develops, talk to your pediatrician.

When choosing a sunscreen, look for the words “broad-spectrum” on the label—it means that the sunscreen will screen out both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays. A sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 should be adequate in most cases. Use enough sunscreen and rub it in well, making sure to cover all exposed areas, especially your baby’s face, nose, ears, feet, and hands and even the back of the knees. Put it on 30 minutes before going outdoors. Reapply the sunscreen frequently, especially if your baby is playing in the water. Remember, sunscreens should be used for sun protection and not as a reason to stay in the sun longer.

Sunburn can be dangerous

If your baby gets a sunburn and is under 1 year of age, contact your pediatrician at once—a severe sunburn is an emergency. For babies over the age of 1 year, tell your pediatrician if there is blistering, pain, or fever. Remember:

  • Avoid sunburns
  • Give juice or water to your baby to replace lost fluids.
  • Cool water soaks may help your baby’s skin feel better.
  • Do not use any medicated lotions on your baby’s skin unless your pediatrician recommends it.
  • Keep your baby completely out of the sun until the sunburn is totally healed.

Information on this site is intended for Angel Kids Pediatrics patients only. Always consult your doctor before beginning, modifying, or discontinuing any treatment plan.

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