As a child’s skin is still young and developing, it can often be more sensitive and vulnerable to the damaging effects of the sun. Recent studies and reports have shown that even one blistering sunburn during childhood can double your child’s lifetime risk of developing skin cancer. Now, more than ever, we understand the importance of being SunSmart. Educating your child to develop good sun protection habits from an early age can help to provide lifelong prevention.
Whilst covering up and wearing a hat are easy ways to protect your child against the sun, these aren’t always practical as they would rather be swimming or playing outdoors. However choosing a sunscreen to protect your little ones isn’t easy, as many sunscreens contain ingredients that may irritate their skin.
So what should you look for when choosing a sunscreen for your child?
Look for a broad-spectrum SPF50+ product, as this is the highest level of protection you can get. Also look for a product that is fragrance free as this may minimise the likelihood of irritation. A child specific product in general will be formulated to be gentle enough for a child’s delicate skin while maintaining a high level of protection.
It is also worth bearing in mind to choose a product that has simple dosing instructions and is easy to apply. Trying to apply the correct amount of sunscreen to a squirming child that would rather be in the playground can be difficult!
Lastly, ensure you apply their sunscreen at least 20 minutes before they head outdoors and reapply every 2 hours. Make sure they wear a hat outdoors and if at daycare or school, pack their hat each day. And remember they are never too young to learn how to apply their sunscreen themselves, so encourage them to re-apply it at school.
Cancer Council of Australia / Position statement – Sun protection and babies (0-12 months) [online] [CitedAccessed August18, 2017]. Available from:
SunSmart Australia / Sun protection for children [online] [CitedAccessedAugust18,2017]. Available from: http://www.sunsmart.com.au/protect-your-skin/parents
Schneider J. The teaspoon rule of applying sunscreen. Arch Dermatol 2002;138(6):838–9.