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Learning About Sunscreen

Pediatrix understands that outdoor play and a healthy amount of Vitamin D are important for growing kids, but prolonged exposure to the Ultraviolet rays from the sun can become problematic to people of all ages.  Ultraviolet rays are dangerous because they can trigger a chemical reaction within your body’s cells and may cause:

  • Premature aging of the skin
  • Development of skin cancer
  • Development of cataracts

As winter draws to a close, the dangers of the sun and ultraviolet rays become more prominent.  Rising temperatures and longer days attribute to increased sunlight exposure, while the risks to your child increases as well.  No one understands these dangers more than Pediatrix.  You can never be too careful when it comes to the proper skin care in the harsh Arizona climate.

The use of sunscreen is important, but what is just as necessary is a clear understanding of the types of sunscreen and how to properly apply it to your child – of which Pediatrix is here to help.

There are two primary types of sunscreen: physical sunscreen and chemical sunscreen.  Physical sunscreen is the more traditional type of sunscreen; it is the type that you squeeze out of the bottle and lather on to the skin, paying close attention to those hard to reach areas.  Physical sunscreen creates a protective layer for your skin, blocking most of the ultraviolet rays from the sun so that the skin cannot absorb them or their harmful properties.

Chemical sunscreen contains organic chemicals and is often squeezed on to the skin just like physical sunscreen.  The key difference between chemical and physical sunscreen is that where physical sunscreen blocks the ultraviolet light from penetrating your skin, the chemical sunscreen absorbs most of the ultraviolet rays, allowing a small fraction to actually reach your skin.

When applying sunscreen to your child, it is important to cover all exposed areas of the skin.  It is also important to use the recommended amount of sunscreen; many people use as little as half the recommended amount of sunscreen by the bottle, so be sure to read the directions clearly!

If you are concerned about your child’s exposure to the sun or have noticed the development of worrisome marks on the skin, please contact your pediatrician at Pediatrix.  Make an appointment to discuss proper sun exposure and the recommended sun protection for your child.




Subir K. Mitra, MD, FAAP

Posted in Blog on March 28th, 2012