You know it's important to protect your child's tender skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. But you can't just slather on any old sunscreen anytime you remember to. Are you sunscreen savvy? Ask yourself:
1. Which sun-protection factor (SPF) is best?
a. An SPF of 15 or higher
b. An SPF between 35 and 50
c. An SPF under 15
2. When's the best time to apply sunscreen?
a. An hour before going out in the sun
b. Fifteen to 30 minutes before going out in the sun
c. Immediately upon going out in the sun
3. How often should sunscreen be reapplied?
a. Every hour
b. Every two hours
c. Every three hours
d. Whenever your child gets wet
Answer 1: A
When choosing sunscreen for your child, choose one with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. There's no need to use products with an SPF over 30, though, because these provide added chemicals without much added protection. A product with an SPF of 30 blocks 97 percent of UVB rays, for example, and one with an SPF of 15 blocks 93 percent of UVB rays.
Learn about the safest sunscreens for babies and how to use them properly.
While the SPF only indicates protection against UVB rays, you'll want to choose a "broad spectrum" sunscreen. Broad spectrum means that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
UVB rays are more likely to cause sunburn and wrinkling, but UVA rays pass deeper into the skin. Both can be dangerous.
Answer 2: B
Apply sunscreen about 15 to 30 minutes before you head out the door. Make sure every part of your child's exposed skin is covered, including the tips of his ears, the back of his neck and knees, the tops of his feet, and other sun-sensitive spots.
Use about as much sunscreen as you would lotion on dry skin. A 4-year old, for example, needs about 2 to 3 tablespoons of sunscreen. (That means an 8-ounce tube will only last for five or six applications, so stock up!)
Answer 3: B and D
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after your child gets wet or perspires heavily, whichever comes first. Even sunscreens labeled "water resistant" can become less effective after 40 minutes in the water. And when your child towel-dries, he'll rub off much of the sunscreen.
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