There are a lot of sunscreen lotions available for your baby’s delicate skin, so make a well-informed decision.
By Ghazal Alagh
In adults, long-term exposure to consistently high UV rays can mutate and cause degenerative changes in skin cells. It can cause premature skin ageing, inflammation of the eyes, besides melanoma, cancer of the skin, in the worst cases. Can you imagine the effect of exposure on soft and supple baby skin, which is far more vulnerable than adult skin?
Sunlight is essential for newborns as it helps in absorbing Vitamin D and also cures jaundice in babies. While a short period of sun exposure is good for babies, extended exposure without protection can cause sunburn and long-term damage. Few minutes of sun exposure during high radiation can lead to sunburn to the extent of first degree burns. So if you’re still wondering whether babies need sunscreen, the answer is a resounding yes.
There are a lot of sunscreen lotions available for infants, so make your decision judiciously. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the right sunscreen for your baby:
What’s the SPF?
The sun protection factor (SPF) is the best way to determine the effectiveness of a sunscreen. It measures the sunscreen protection from UVB rays, the rays which cause sunburn and wrinkling. Sunscreen with SPF 15-30 is considered ideal by dermatologists, contrary to the belief that higher the SPF, more the protection.
What is it made of?
Another important factor to consider while choosing a sunscreen is whether it has a chemical base or mineral base. A chemical-based sunscreen works by absorbing the rays and then dispelling the heat through a chemical reaction. It is better to avoid chemicals as their long-term effects are still unknown.
On the other hand, mineral-based sunscreens use active mineral ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium oxide to reflect sunrays and protect the exposed skin. Mineral-based sunscreens are definitely a safer option for babies.
Is sunscreen toxic?
The motto, “fight evil with evil” is no good when it comes to sun protection. A sunscreen which is both effective and non-toxic is every mommy’s dream. However, sunscreen bottles might not carry clear labels stating whether they are toxic. A few commonly found harsh chemicals to look out for include: Oxybenzone, Parabens, Octocrylene, Sulfates, Phthalates, Petroleum, Mineral Oil, and synthetic fragrances or dyes. It is always a good idea to opt for natural, non-toxic and chemical-free sunscreens for babies.
Picking a hypoallergenic sunscreen for babies reduces the chances of allergic reaction on your baby’s skin. Lastly, a non-greasy sunscreen is always a blessing as it does its job and doesn’t attract grime.
Also, remember that UV rays are at their peak from 10 am to 4 pm, so avoid exposing your baby to direct sunlight during this time without the protection of sunscreen. Do not let the comforting winter sun make you skimp on using sunscreen as UV rays are equally powerful during winters.
It is also very delicate and sensitive so is more prone to sunburn. Few minutes of sun exposure during high radiation can lead to sunburn to the extent of first degree burns.
(The writer is co-founder, MamaEarth.)