Pediatric Dermatology: Sunscreen -Protect your children’s skin in the Florida sun.

Living in the sunshine state means that we must think about how to protect ourselves from the sun often. Because sun damage is cumulative, starting a good sunscreen routine for going out in the sun needs to begin early. At the Orlando Dermatology Center, we see patients with sun related damage to their skin often and most of these conditions could easily be prevented with proper skincare routines. Dr. Vitaly Blatnoy recommends patients come in regularly for annual skin cancer screenings.

Can kids use the same sunscreen as adults?

Yes, kids can use the same sunscreen as teens and adults as long as they contain mineral-based formulas with broad spectrum and SPF 30 or higher, according to Dr. Vitaly Blatnoy. Remember that even though a sunscreen may be labeled as “waterproof” it will still likely wash off and need to be reapplied when your child is swimming. Dr. Vitaly Blatnoy at the Orlando Dermatology Center recommends reapplication every 40 minutes or so if engaged in a water sport activity.

There have been a few studies recently that show chemicals in chemical-based sunscreen may be absorbed into the bloodstream. The FDA maintains that these chemicals are safe in small amounts. You may prefer to err on the side of caution and use a mineral-based physical sunscreen instead.

General Sun Safety Tips for Kids:

  • Protect against UVA and UVB rays. Look for broad-spectrum sunscreens that protect against UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays can cause tanning, aging, leathery skin and skin cancer including melanoma. UVB rays can cause sunburns, skin cancer and increased moles in some individuals.
  • Apply and then reapply sunscreen. Put more sunscreen on your child about every 3 hours or sooner when there is prolonged activity in the water (40 min or so).
  • Stay inside or in the shade during peak hours. Avoid activities during peak sunshine hours (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.) when possible. Seek shade if your shadow is shorter than you are.
  • Use sun protective clothing. Dress your children in a variety of available UV protective clothing that can be worn in and out of the pool/water (wide-brimmed hats, long sleeved cotton clothing and sunglasses).

Most sun damage occurs early in life so it’s critical to avoid sunburn in children in order to prevent skin cancer in the future. Sunscreen doesn’t really make it safe to stay out in the hot sun for longer than you would otherwise. It’s just an extra line of defense to protect the skin. So, whether you’re wearing sunscreen or not, you should limit direct sunlight exposure.