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4 tips dermatologists can give patients to help protect babies from the sun

As part of the American Academy of Dermatology’s (AAD) “video of the month” series, they have released a video that can be shown to patients with tips on how to protect their infants and babies from the sun.

“Sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer, including melanoma,” said pediatric dermatologist Dr. Sheila Fallon Friedlander, a professor of pediatrics and dermatology at the University of California San Diego. “To help ensure your baby’s safety, keep sun-safety items near the front door, in your car and in your diaper bag so that you always have them ready when you’re on-the-go.”

For additional ways to keep a child safe, Dr. Friedlander recommends the following tips:

  1. The baby should be kept in the shade. Shade is the best way to shield a baby from the sun, especially if he or she is younger than six months. Keep the baby in the shade as much as possible, and if shade can’t be found, they can create their own using an umbrella, canopy, or the hood of a stroller.

  2. The baby should be dressed in sun-protective clothing, such as a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, and pants. In addition, the baby should always wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection.

  3. Sunscreen use on children younger than six months old should be minimized, but used when needed. If shade and adequate clothing are not available, parents and caretakers may apply a minimal amount of broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to their children’s skin. Sunscreens containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are less likely to irritate a baby’s sensitive skin. Sunscreen should be re-applied every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating, as there is no such thing as “waterproof” sunscreen.

  4. Stay safe on hot days. In addition to sun protection, patients should stay safe on hot days and make sure their baby does not get overheated and drinks plenty of fluids. If their baby is fussy, crying excessively, or has redness on any exposed skin, they must be taken indoors immediately.

“Sun protection is important at every stage of life, including infancy,” said Dr. Friedlander.

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