Tag: acne

Safe and Effective Sun Screens for Kids

One of the cardinal rules of summer is that you don’t let your kids get a sunburn.

While a really great rule, it misses that you also shouldn’t let them get a tan either, and the rule doesn’t just apply to summer.

How do they do it in Australia? Slip (on some sleeves) - Slop (on a lot of sunscreen) - Slap (on a hat) - Seek (shade) - and Slide (on your sunglasses).
How do they do it in Australia? Slip (on some sleeves) – Slop (on a lot of sunscreen) – Slap (on a hat) – Seek (shade) – and Slide (on your sunglasses).

That’s were sunscreen comes in. Slop it on.

Sunscreens for Kids

Are sunscreens safe for kids?

As with insect repellents, despite all of the warning about chemicals and toxins that you might read on the internet, the answer is of course they are. In fact, most sunscreens can even be used on infants as young as age six months. And it is certainly better than letting your kids get sunburned!

You do have to use them correctly though.

Choosing a Safe and Effective Sunscreen

Which sunscreen should you use?

This Blue Lizard sunscreen includes Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, providing broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection.
This Blue Lizard sunscreen includes Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, providing broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection.

Many parents are surprised that there are actually a lot of different ingredients in sunscreens, from Aminobenzoic acid and Octocrylene to Zinc Oxide.

While some are physical sunscreens (Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide), others are chemical sunscreens. Some provide UVA protection, some UVB protection, and some offer both. And not surprisingly, some have become controversial, especially retinyl palmitate (vitamin A) and oxybenzone.

All are thought to be safe though.

Which is best?

When choosing a sunscreen, start with the fact that none should usually be used on infants under six months of age. Otherwise, choose the product (whatever the brand, to be honest, whether it is Banana Boat, Blue Lizard, Coppertone, Hawaiian Tropic, Neutrogena, or Target) best suited to your child’s needs, especially considering that:

  • sun tan lotion and tanning oil should be avoided
  • SPF 8 only blocks 87 percent of UVB rays and should be avoided
  • SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of UVB rays (minimum you should use)
  • SPF 30 blocks 97 percent of UVB rays (good for daily use)
  • SPF 50 blocks 98 percent of UVB rays (good for daily use)
  • SPF 50+ don’t offer much more UVB protection and may encourage folks to stay in the sun longer than they should, putting them at even more risk from UVA rays
  • a broad-spectrum sunscreen provides both UVA and UVB protection
  • even if your kids don’t go in the water, a sunscreen that is water-resistant might stay on better if they are sweating or get sprayed with water

In addition to the active ingredient and it’s SPF, you can now decide if you want a sunscreen that is in a spray, mist, cream, lotion, or stick. You can then pick one that is fragrance free, PABA free (of course), tear free, oil free (important if your kids have acne), for your baby or your kid playing sports, for someone with sensitive skin, or goes on dry.

Using a whipped sunscreen is just one of the newer ways to protect your kids from the sun's harmful rays.
Using a whipped sunscreen is just one of the newer ways to protect your kids in the sun.

Or would you like your child’s sunscreen whipped???

While parents and kids often seem to prefer spray sunscreens, do keep in mind the warnings about inhaling the spray and that some experts are concerned that they make it harder to apply a generous amount on your child. How much of the spray goes off in the wind? How much end up in an oily spot on the floor? If you use a spray sunscreen, follow the directions, rub it in, and don’t spray it in your child’s face. Also, don’t spray sunscreen on your child near an open flame.

Most importantly, you want to choose a sunscreen that will help you get in a good routine of using properly and using all of the time. Personally, I like all of the newer non-greasy lotions for kids and adults that have come out in the last few years. They are easy to apply, even in generous amounts, and work well.

Using Sunscreens on Kids

Now that you have chosen your sunscreen, be sure to use it properly.

“An average-sized adult or child needs at least one ounce of sunscreen (about the amount it takes to fill a shot glass) to evenly cover the body from head to toe.”

FDA

Do your kids still get burned or tanned despite using sunscreen? They aren’t immune to sunscreen. You are probably just making one or more common sunscreen mistakes, like not using enough sunscreen (start using a lot more), waiting until you’re already outside before applying it on your kids (you want to apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you go outside so that it has time to get absorbed into their skin), or not reapplying it often enough (sunscreen should be reapplied every few hours or more often if your kids are swimming or sweating a lot).

How long does a 6 or 8 ounce container of sunscreen last you? Remember that if you are applying an ounce before your kids go outside, reapplying it every few hours, and using it on most days (not just in the summer), then it shouldn’t last very long at all.

A layered approach to sun protection can help keep your kids safe in the sun.
A layered approach to sun protection can help keep your kids safe in the sun.

For the best protection and to avoid mistakes, be sure to read the label and follow your sunscreen’s instructions carefully, and also:

  • encourage your kids to seek shade and wear protective clothing (especially hats, sunglasses, and UPF sun-safe clothing), in addition to wearing sun screen for extra sun protection
  • use sunscreen every time they go outside, even when it’s cloudy
  • reduce or limit your child’s sun exposure when UV rays are strongest, which is usually from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (and all of the way to 4 p.m. in most areas), especially on days when the UV index is moderate or high and/or when there is a UV Alert in your area.

If you forget something, remember slip, slop, slap, seek, and slide.

Facts about Sunscreens and Sun Protection for Kids

Other things to know about sunscreen and sun protection for kids include that:

  • Waiting for improvements to sunscreen labels and new requirements for sunscreens? The FDA made their ‘big changes’ to sunscreens back in 2011. The main things that got left were the SPF cap and the rating system for UVA protection.
  • Tanning beds are not a safe alternative to getting a tan outside in the sun.
  • It is not safe to get a base tan. It won’t protect you from a sunburn and it increases your chance of future melanoma.
  • Still confused about how much sunscreen to use? Another handy rule is that a handful of sunscreen (fill to cover the palm of their cupped hand) should be a generous amount that’s enough to cover your child’s entire body. Since bigger kids have bigger hands, that should help you adjust the amount for different-size kids and as they get older.
  • Avoid combination sunscreen/insect repellent products. Use separate products instead, applying the sunscreen first and reapplying the sunscreen every few hours as necessary. Since you don’t typically reapply insect repellents (unless you are going to be outside for a really long time), if your child starts to get bitten, next time, you will likely need to consider using an insect repellent with a different active ingredient or at least one with a stronger concentration that might last longer.
  • SPF is only a measure of the sunscreen’s level of protection against UVB rays, but does say anything about UVA protection. A sunscreen that is labeled as being broad spectrum should protect against both UVA and UVB radiation.
  • According to the FDA, “SPF is not directly related to time of solar exposure but to amount of solar exposure.” What does that mean? While you can stay in the sun longer when protected with a sunscreen, no matter the SPF, it doesn’t tell you how long. Other factors, including the time of day, weather conditions, and even your location will help determine how quickly your skin will burn.
  • Sunscreens should be stored in a cool place and be thrown away after they expire. While it might be convenient, your car is not a good place to store your sunscreen.

Ready for some fun in the sun now? You sure you won’t come home with a sunburn or a dark tan?

What To Know About Sunscreens for Kids

Applying a generous amount of a water-resistant sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum SPF 15 to 30 sun protection at least 15 to 30 minutes before your child is going to be in the sun, reapplying every few hours, can help keep your kids safe in the sun.

More About Sunscreens for Kids

Treating Hard to Control Acne

Does your teen or pre-teen have acne?

Does he want to get it under control? Will he actually follow a daily regimen your pediatrician prescribes?

Acne Treatments for Kids

While treating your child’s acne on you own with an over-the-counter product can be a good way to start, there are so many products, you do want to make sure you are using the right ones. In general, you should likely start with:

  • products with benzoyl peroxide (BP), which might include OTC 5-10% BP wash for your child’s back or chest
  • a gentle, soap free, pH-balanced cleanser to wash your child’s face twice a day or a salicylic acid cleanser
  • a facial toner, only if necessary to remove excess oil or makeup

When those regimens aren’t working, your pediatrician can prescribe stronger acne medicines, usually in a step-wise fashion, including:

  • a topical retinoid –  Tretinoin (Retin A), Adapalene (Differin), or Tazarotene (Tazorac)
  • a combination topical product – BP/clindamycin (BenzaClin), BP/adapalene (Epiduo), BP/erythromycin (Benzamycin),  tretinoin/clindamycin (Ziana)
  • oral antibiotics – doxycycline, monocycline, tetracycline

If your child isn’t tolerating these medicines, like if it is causing his skin to become dry, make sure he is also using a moisturizer and washing with a mild soap substitute, like Dove. Starting with the lowest strength medicine can also be helpful, perhaps even just using topical medicines every other day until your child gets used to them.

Treating Hard to Control Acne

What do you do if your child’s acne isn’t getting better?

Ask yourself these questions and discuss the answers with your pediatrician:

  • Has your child started puberty yet? If not, talk to your pediatrician or a pediatric endocrinologist to see why he or she has such bad acne.
  • Are you avoiding picking up an acne prescription because of the cost? Ask your pediatrician about lower cost alternatives.
  • Is your child really using his acne medicines each day?
  • Is your child correctly using his acne medicines each day, avoiding spot treating problem spots and using a pea-size amount of cream or ointment to cover his whole face? Teach her to use the 5-dot method of applying acne cream – with a small pea-size amount of cream, place dots of the cream on their forehead (1), cheeks (2, 3), nose (4), and chin (5). Rub the cream in until, keeping in mind that they are using too much if you can see or feel any left over cream.
  • What kind of acne does your child have? Comedonal (whiteheads and blackheads) and inflammatory acne (classic zits or pimples) are treated differently.
  • Does your child frequently touch or rub his face, which can make acne worse?
  • If using makeup, is it oil-free and noncomedogenic?
  • Is your child overdoing washing, using a harsh soap or astringent, thinking that dirt is making her acne worse?
  • Does your child use a non-comedogenic sunscreen, remembering that a sunburn will make her acne worse in the long run?
  • Does your child have severe acne, which should probably be treated with a combination of oral antibiotics plus topical retinoids with BP, with or without topical antibiotics?
  • Did you give the medicines enough time to work or have a relapse because you stopped them too soon? Acne often worsens before it gets better and oral antibiotics are often continued for months and months,  with a goal of being tapered and stopped after about three to six months.
  • Does your child need a step-up in therapy? Ask your pediatrician if you need to add on a new medicine, switch to a combination product, or move to a higher strength product.
  • Have you considered adding hormonal therapy (combination oral contraceptives) for your pubertal daughter with severe acne, such as Ortho-Tri-Cyclen, Estrostep, or Yaz?

Lastly, even with worry about possible side effects, oral isotretinoin (Accutane, Amnesteem, Sotret, and Claravis) is still a good option for teens with severe, refractory, and scarring acne. At this point, and perhaps even before, an evaluation by a dermatologist would be a good idea.

What To Know About Treating Hard to Control Acne

There are no quick fixes for acne, but your pediatrician can offer you a step-by-step regimen of topical and oral acne treatments.

More Information On Treating Hard to Control Acne