Doctor's office
Enter your doctor's name to get office information.
Find labs in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find labs in your network.
Find urgent care centers in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find urgent care centers in your network.
Verify your medical group

Refer to your insurance card or call your insurance provider to determine your medical group.

You can also search for your primary care doctor to find the medical group you and your doctor belong to.

FollowMyHealth®
Driving Directions
Cart
Update Information
Forgot Password

Please enter your e-mail address.

Sharp Health News

Sunscreen for babies: What to use and when to start applying

June 9, 2022

Baby with sunscreen on face

Summer in San Diego means beach outings, barbecues, lazy days by the pool and plenty of sunshine. While enjoying the outdoors, it’s important to remember that the sun’s rays can be harmful — especially for babies.

Infants and babies are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of the sun because they haven’t yet developed all of the melanin in their skin. Melanin is a natural substance that gives color (pigment) to hair, skin and the iris of the eye. It also helps protect skin from the sun. Practicing sun safety will help protect your little one’s oh-so-soft and sensitive skin.

Sunscreen is a primary sun-safety tool, and one of the best defenses against sunburn and skin cancer. But what do parents need to know about sunscreen for their babies? Here, we answer common sunscreen questions and provide tips for a safe summer in the sun.

When can babies wear sunscreen?
Sunscreen can help shield a baby’s skin from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. But before you start slathering, consider your baby’s age. Sunscreen recommendations are different for younger and older babies.

Dr. Teresa Hardisty, a pediatrician with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, regularly advocates people should spend more time in nature. But she says the safest sun protection for infants is to stay in the shade. “It’s best to keep babies less than 6 months of age out of prolonged, direct sunlight,” she says.

Additionally, Dr. Hardisty notes that due to their sensitive skin, it’s recommended to wait until a baby is at least 6 months old before introducing sunscreen. For babies older than 6 months, you can apply sunscreen to all areas of the body. But remember to be careful around the eyes.

What sunscreen is best for babies?
When choosing a sunscreen, Dr. Hardisty recommends a hypoallergenic, fragrance-free cream formula. It’s the gentlest option for babies and is less likely to cause irritation. For sensitive areas, such as the nose, cheeks, tops of the ears and shoulders, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests choosing a mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Be sure to choose a sunscreen that says “broad-spectrum” on the label. This indicates the sunscreen will block both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. A sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is best and should be applied 15 to 20 minutes before going outdoors to allow enough time to absorb into the skin.

Allergic reactions to sunscreen are rare. However, it’s recommended you apply a small patch test on your baby’s skin first to check for any signs of irritation.

How else can I protect my baby from the sun?
“In addition to sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats and sun-protective clothing are best for prolonged time in the sun,” Dr. Hardisty says.

When possible, she also advises people avoid scheduling outdoor activities between 10 am and 4 pm — the hours when the sun is at its strongest and UV rays are more intense.

To get an idea of how strong the sun’s rays are on any given day, check the UV index in your area. You can find this measurement on many weather apps or by visiting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Sun Safety page and entering your city or ZIP code.

The UV index is measured on a scale from 1 to 11-plus. The higher the number, the greater the risk of sunburn or skin damage. Try to reduce your child’s time in the sun when the UV index is 3 or higher and use extra sun protection.

As parents make their summer plans, Dr. Hardisty advises they keep their little ones safe from too much sun exposure. Protection from the sun is important at all stages of life, she says, but it’s even more crucial for infants and babies.

You might also like:

Choose the doctor who's right for you.

At Sharp, we make it easy to find an exceptional doctor — right where you live and work.

All Categories
Contact Sharp HealthCare
Call us

Call 1-800-827-4277 or view our detailed phone directory.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.


Email us

Please do not use this form to convey personal or medical information.

How would you like to be contacted?
Date of birth
Optional


What's This?

These important numbers are located on your billing statement.

Find your Sharp Rees-Stealy account number

Find your SharpCare account number

Find your SharpCare account number
What's GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) governs the processing of personal information gathered from individuals while they are in the European Union (EU) and parts of the EEA (European Economic Area, which currently includes Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway).

We are sorry, but we are unable to process your price estimate if you live or are travelling within the EU or affiliated nations.

What's This?

Many surgery and procedure names sound similar. If possible, please provide the current procedure terminology (CPT) code, which can be found on the order from your doctor.

If you cannot provide the CPT code, please contact your doctor's office for the CPT or a detailed description of services.