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Infants Need to be Protected from Sun

Update Date: Jul 08, 2012 11:31 PM EDT

Protection from sun is extremely important for adults and children alike. While adults can opt for sunscreens with high SPF, the same is not always recommended for babies. Babies have a very sensitive skin, and it does not take a long time before their skin starts reaction to sun's harmful radiations. Infants lack the ability to sweat like adults and hence it is important to look for alternative ways to protect them from sun exposure, experts say.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics has given certain guidelines that parents and caretakers can follow in order to ensure a sunburn free summer for infants.  

The FDA does not recommend sunscreen for children under 6 months old. Dr. Hari Cheryl Sachs, a pediatrician with the FDA says that an infant's skin is much thinner and can easily absorb the active, chemical ingredients found in sunscreens more easily. This could cause allergic reactions or inflammation.

"The best approach is to keep infants under 6 months out of the sun, and to avoid exposure to the sun in the hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when ultraviolet (UV) rays are most intense," Sachs said in an FDA news release.

The precautions to be taken to protect infants from sunburn are as simple as creating a shade by perhaps an umbrella or stroller canopy, she pointed out. In case of no other option available, a sunscreen with an SPF as least as 15 can be applied to small areas of exposed skin, such as the cheeks and back of the hands, she says.

She noted that it is always a good idea to apply a small amount of sunscreen on the inner-wrist of the baby first in order to check for any allergic reaction.

The following are the tips recommended by Sachs and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offered to protect a baby's skin from sun exposure, according to Health Day:

  • Dress up infants in lightweight pants and shirts with long sleeves, as well as hats with brims that shade the ears and neck, advised the AAP. Sheer fabrics should be avoided because they could still result in a sunburn.
  • It is important to make sure that the babies have ample amount of water intake. Being hydrated is important. Feeding breast milk and using a cooler to store the liquids in case they are out in the sun for more than a few minutes is a good idea.
  • Babies should be constantly monitored for any signs of dehydration. The symptoms could include fussiness, redness of the exposed skin, excessive crying and lack of urination.
  • In case a sun-screen if applied, adults should ensure that the products do not contain the insect repellant DEET.
  • As soon a baby is detected with sun-burn, it should be immediately taken under a shade and cold compresses should be applied to the affected areas, the report said.

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