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PROTECTING YOUR LITTLE ONE

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Your little one’s skin is soft and vulnerable, and may need special care against the harsh sun. Jagruti Verma tells you whether you should use a sunscreen on your child’s sensitive skin

If it is your child’s first summer, you may want to introduce them to the wonderful outdoors and let them play with other children. However, the sun can play spoilsport and hamper your plans. A baby’s skin is not only soft, it’s also extremely sensitive, and you’re going to have to take extra precautions if they’re going to be outdoors, potentially exposed to the harsh rays of the sun. If your kids are older and go to school, they will likely spend much of the summer outdoors in the sun, so it’s equally important to protect them from the dangerous UV rays. But, can you put sunscreen on your child’s skin? If you’ve been asking yourself the same question, read on.

Infants and toddlers
Until the age of six months, your baby’s skin is extremely soft and delicate. It needs extra care, and even the slightest exposure to something harsh can cause a rash or an allergy. Dr. Manjiri Puranik, cosmetic physician at Insta-sculpt, says that it’s best not to use sunscreen on small children. She tells us, “Try to cover as much of your baby’s skin as you can with clothes, wide-brimmed hats and sun glasses, if you need to. Keep them in the shade, especially between 10am and 3pm.” This is because the sun’s UV rays are at their most intense during these hours.

If you’re planning on applying sunscreen on your toddler’s skin, make sure you have the nod from your paediatrician first and only use a very small quantity. “First, try a tiny amount on a very small area of your child’s skin in order to make sure the sunscreen doesn’t irritate their skin. Also, make sure not to put any of it anywhere near your child’s eyes, as children are fidgety,” Dr. Manjiri says. And, even if you decide to put sunscreen on your child, use sunscreen specially meant for children, as their skin is thinner and has more potential to absorb irritants.

Older children
Several brands have introduced skin-friendly sunscreen for children. They’re packed in peppy colours so that children find them attractive. The fruity scents help too! Dr. Soma Sarkar, medical director and dermatologist at Skin Inn, tells us that you should check the label carefully when you’re shopping for sunscreen for your child. She explains, “It is safe for children to use sunscreen. In fact, it is really important as they actively take part in outdoor activities and sports.” Here’s a checklist you should follow when adding one to your shopping cart:

  • It should contain zinc oxide and titanium oxide.
  • It should be free from oxybenzone.
  • It should be able to filter both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Avoid spray formulations and pick light weight, mineral-based lotions instead.

Chemically speaking
Dr. Mohan Thomas, senior cosmetic surgeon at the Cosmetic Surgery Institute, tells us about the ingredients used in sunscreen products and which ones to pick for your child’s skin. He says, “Titanium dioxide and micronized zinc oxide are recommended because they do not get absorbed into the skin. Instead, they just sit on the surface of the skin and provide a barrier to the UVA and UVB light, helping to prevent skin irritation and allergic reactions. On the other hand, synthetic ingredients such as parabens, oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are absorbed into the skin (to filter and absorb UV rays), effectively protect the deeper layers of your skin. But, since they are absorbed, these chemicals can lead to skin irritation and can often lead to reactions.”

So, be cautious when picking a sunscreen product for your child. Here are a few things that you should look out for:

  • An SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 or higher is recommended, which will properly protect your child’s skin.
  • If your child has sensitive skin or allergies, do not buy scented or coloured variants.
  • For children who have oily skin, water-based sunscreen is the best.
  • Children should use water-resistant sunscreen when they’re going for a swim.

CHILD-FRIENDLY PRODUCTS
We’ve picked out a few child-friendly sunscreen options that you can get at your local chemist or online.

Regular use
This Milk & Co sunscreen is water-resistant and it moisturises the skin. It also contains vitamin E and aloe vera, and it would be great for everyday use.

Price: Rs 1,615

Where: www.firstcry.com

Making a splash
Meant for active children who love to swim, Neutrogena’s wet skin kids sunscreen with SPF 70+ isn’t just great against the sun, the convenient stick packaging makes it easy to apply and carry as well.

Price: Rs 599

Where: www.amazon.in

No tears please
For extra care, you can opt for this no tears, no string formula from Banana Boat. With an SPF of 50, this gentle lotion is a good choice for sensitive skin.

Price: Rs 799 

Where: www.shopping.rediff.com

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