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A Complete Skincare
Guide For Children

Written exclusively for bümo by Savanna Perry, PA-C, dermatology physician assistant,
and founder of The PA Platform blog.

Skincare for Toddlers
"Let's make protecting everyone’s skin this summer a priority."

As Olaf says, “I love summer.” The sun is out in full force, and burning off energy outside or splashing in the pool are great ways to ensure a peaceful nap time. While getting fresh air is essential, so is protecting everyone’s skin from the harmful UVA and UVB rays that accompany the sun. Here are some tips for your family’s summer skincare.

Protecting Baby Skin

Sunscreen is recommended for babies older than 6 months, but avoiding the sun is more effective for the little ones. Try to plan outside time early in the morning before 10 a.m. or in the evenings after 4 p.m. to stay out of the most direct sunlight of the day. Take advantage of umbrellas and shady spots as much as possible.

Check swimsuits, hats and clothing for UPF, and keep extras in your car, bag, or stroller in case you get caught off guard or stuck outdoors. Regular white fabric only provides approximately 7 UPF, which means it isn’t nearly protective enough without that UPF indication.

Tips for Big Kid Skin

For children over 6 months, sunscreen should be applied anytime they will be in direct sunlight. Shady skies included. Having darker skin, or “never burning,” are not reasons to skip sun protection. A tan is a visible sign of sun damage.

When looking for a sunscreen, use these parameters: broad-spectrum (protects against UVA and UVB rays), at least 30 SPF, and water resistant. Don’t forget to grab an SPF 30 chapstick for lips as well, and check for expiration dates on any products with SPF. Avoid at-home concoctions that promise sun protection, but haven’t been tested or formulated for consistency.

For choosing a sunscreen based on ingredients, a physical sunscreen containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide will be effective and less irritating on baby skin. The zinc oxide is what causes a white film at times, but some of the newer formulations aren’t nearly as thick. Chemical sunscreens are also fine, but use trial and error to find your preference. As far as choosing my “favorite” sunscreen, it’s whichever one you’ll actually use!

Does it seem like a battle every time you want to apply sunscreen on the kiddos? Luckily, you have tons of options when it comes to SPF beyond the traditional creams, including sprays, powders, and sticks. While creams should be your first choice, some kids won’t cooperate with application.

My personal favorite for little faces, ears, and hands is a stick, and a powder for scalps, even if we’re using a hat. If you do use spray, it should be rubbed in as well. Sunscreen needs to be applied before getting in the sun or pool. Shoot for at least 15 minutes before, but keep in mind that sunscreen is only effective for 60-80 minutes. It will be clearly labeled on the product, but look out for those limits.

What Should I Do if We Get Too Much Sun?

Sunburn isn’t fun for anyone, and the concern on our little one’s skin is the longterm damage to their skin cells, which could lead to skin cancer in the future. No sunscreen will block 100 percent of the sun’s harmful rays, despite the SPF number on the bottle or amount applied. That’s why you may still notice some color to your skin even with diligent use of sun block.

If too much sun occurs, start with cool compresses or baths. Moisturizing often with a thick, non-fragrant cream will help nourish the skin. As the skin swells and draws fluid away, consume extra water to counteract the dehydration. A sunburn that blisters should be left alone. I know it’s tempting to pop the blisters, but they will resolve on their own. If multiple blisters occur over a large area or you experience a fever, headache or chills, see a healthcare professional for additional care.

I’m a huge proponent of spending as much time outdoors as possible, but make protecting everyone’s skin this summer a priority.

About the Author

Savanna Perry, PA-C, Dermatology Physician Assistant and Founder of The PA Platform blog. 

The PA Platform 


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