Sun-Proofing Your Children

Here comes the sun…but it’s alright: We tell you how to protect your child’s skin from harmful rays, what to wear and what exactly SPF means.

Sun SafetyAccording to recent research, everyone should use sunscreen whenever going outdoors for more than 30 minutes, even when skies are gray, especially in the summertime.

As much as possible, keep children out of direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. If older children must be outside, use a sunscreen, dress them for maximum sun protection, keep them in the shade as much as possible and protect their eyes with sunglasses.

Choosing a Sunscreen

When looking for appropriate sun protection, make sure your sunscreen provides UVA and UVB protection; is waterproof or water-resistant if your children are going to be in the water; is non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores) if your child has acne; has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 (those with very fair skin need a higher SPF); and carries The Skin Cancer Foundation seal of approval.

If your child has sensitive skin, note that several ingredients in sunscreens can cause skin irritation or allergic reaction. First, patch test a product by applying a small amount to a limited area of skin. If your child develops a rash or itching, call your doctor and get recommendations for sunscreens containing different ingredients.

Using Sunscreen Correctly

Apply protection about 30 minutes before going outdoors so that your child’s skin can fully absorb it. Use between a half ounce and one ounce per application, depending on your child’s size. Rub it over your child’s whole body to get the sunscreen’s full protection. If your child is in the water, reapply (even waterproof sunscreens) every two hours. If your child is not swimming, reapply every three to four hours. The only substances that block out the sun are opaque products, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are often applied to noses and lips.

Read More: What does SPF mean?

To obtain the free brochures Sunscreens and Protecting Kids from the Sun, contact the Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580 at 1-877-382-4357; or visit its Web site at For free pamphlets on sun protection and skin cancer, contact the Skin Cancer Foundation at 1-800-754-6490.