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Baby Sun Protection | Sunscreen, hats, clothing

It is important to take measures to protect babies, regardless of skin tone, from sunburn. The pigment in the skin does not offer full UV protection to avoid the damaging effects of UV on the DNA of our cells. The need for baby sunscreen and sun protection does need to be balanced with the need for Vitamin D for healthy bone development and growth. Read more...

 

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baby sunscreen

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Is it important for even babies with dark skin tones to cover up in the sun with baby sunscreen?


It is important to take measures to protect babies, regardless of skin tone, from sunburn. The pigment in the skin does not offer full UV protection to avoid the damaging effects of UV on the DNA of our cells. It has been demonstrated in numerous studies that sunburns in childhood increase our risk of skin cancer as adults. The skin of infants may be more susceptible to sunburn making it more important to protect from excess UV exposure. The need for baby sunscreen and sun protection does need to be balanced with the need for Vitamin D for healthy bone development and growth. Remember, a sunburn is not necessary to achieve Vitamin D production. As a mother and a Dermatologist, I recommend sun-protective clothing for adaptable UV protection to allow for some UV exposure while concealing in periods of time of UV excess. It is difficult to achieve a predictable balance with SPF-containing products.



Parents worry that baby hats with a string or chin strap to hold them on may bring the risk of strangulation. What would you recommend?



Many baby sun hats come with ties, straps, or chin straps to keep the hat in place. These are intended to hold the hat while active. I can certainly understand the concerns over the risks of strings or chin straps for baby hats that some parents may have. For infants that are not yet mobile, it may not be necessary to have chin straps or to use them if they are present. I used to cut these off of hats when my children were smaller to avoid concerns about the straps getting caught. A better choice to avoid losing the hat is attaching the brim of the hat to a pacifier clip.


If you have a toddler or child, remember that sun hats should be worn with supervision if straps or ties are in place to avoid the risk of them getting caught and pulling at the neck. Consider velcro straps instead of ties or clasps for ease of quick release when needed. Remember it is simple to turn any strap into a velcro strap by simply applying a peel-and-stick velcro strip to the strings. Quick safety release clasps are available in some brands as well. To avoid the risk altogether, consider a hat that has flaps over the back and ears. These tend to stay in place through a closer fit.


Are there any safe ways to keep a baby's hat on their head?


As a mom, a Dermatologist, and a sun-protective clothing designer, I tend to prefer hats with flaps for kids as opposed to straps. Flaps to offer coverage for the neck and ears simply allow for more predictable UV protection with a comfortable fit without the risk of straps pulling or tugging at the chin or neck.


Should parents use both sunscreen and a hat on their children? Is that overkill?


When purchasing hats for sun protection, verify by checking the label if the product offers effective UV protection. Hats can be tested for their UPF or ultraviolet protection factor. The UPF informs the consumer of the hat's ability to block both UVA and UVB rays. Look for hats with at least a UPF of 30. UPF of 50 is even better. If the hat has not been tested it is difficult to say with certainty if the hat offers effective or adequate UV coverage. With a UPF of 30+ for hats, there is no need to supplement with additional sunscreen under the hat. Hats with effective UV protection will be far more effective and offer more predictable coverage than a sunscreen product. Sunscreens wear off and need to be reapplied. Hats offer sun protection that does not wear off until you take it off.



Is there an age when it's okay to let your child stop wearing a hat in the sun?



Ideally, developing a habit of wearing hats in the sun early in life could translate into continued use throughout life. Hats offer ideal UV protection for the head and scalp. Hair offers variable UV protection based on the quality of hair, quantity of hair, and style. There are significant challenges in applying sunscreen to the scalp evenly. Much of my time as a Dermatologist is spent treating precancerous spots and cancerous lesions in the scalp in adults clearly indicating that there are challenges protecting the scalp.


Will wearing a sun hat prevent sunburn?



Wearing a hat that has been verified through UPF testing to offer UV protection can reduce the risk of sunburn by blocking over 97 to 98% of UVA and UVB from affecting the skin.




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