Protecting your baby’s skin in summer is important when they’re out and about in the sun. The best way to protect your baby’s skin is through long-sleeved opaque clothing, but when it’s hot, the longer layers aren’t practical. Sunscreen is the next best form of skin protection from the sun. Medical practitioners encourage sunscreens can be used on babies of any age. However, there are some key ingredients to look out for.
Parents often look at the SPF rating and choose a sunscreen based on this number, however a mum, Connie-Lee Swaddling, shared a viral Facebook post that explained how we’ve looked at sunscreen wrong.
The mum explained, “The doctor told my husband and I that SPF is not the important thing to be looking for, he said what you need to do is turn the product over and make sure it had the titanium and zinc products. They are the products that protect you,” she says.
“Also they are the ingredients that don’t get put into the aerosol can as they are a form of metal and can not be turned into aerosol form to leave the can and protect the body.”
Queensland dermatologist Dr Laura Wheller from South East Dermatology in QLD agrees and told Essential Baby, parents should choose a fragrance-free sunscreen that has been formulated for sensitive skin if being applied to babies. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are physical blockers of sunlight and work better than chemical blocking agents.
The advice came after a three-month-old-boy in Queensland developed a severe rash after his mum, Jessie Swan, put sunscreen on him.
The baby boy developed a horrible rash after the mum applied Cancer Council’s SPF50+ Peppa Pig sunscreen before taking him outside. The rash caused the baby boy to be hospitalized for two nights and three days.
Jessie shared her experience on a Facebook post that went viral. She explained her baby had not been in the sun, but she had applied the sunscreen to her baby as a precaution for when they went outdoors.
Unfortunately her son had a reaction to the sunscreen. The Facebook post attracted over 4000 comments, with some parents advising their child had had a similar reaction.
Cancer Council Australia responded to the incident, saying it was upsetting. They assured their product had been formulated to suit delicate skin. Their statement read,
“It has a lower level of active ingredients when compared to other products and we have selected preservatives that are known to be more gentle on the skin.”
Every product by the Cancer Council is approved by the TGA “and meets very strict regulatory and quality standards”.
Dr Wheller explained severe reactions to sunscreen are very uncommon, but they can happen. She recommended parents take their child to seek medical help in the event of a severe skin reaction.
She does encourage parents to continue using sunscreen on their kids.
“There is good evidence that sunburns in childhood in particular are linked strongly with the development of skin cancers in later life, therefore sunscreen in this young age group is imperative.”