My father was just diagnosed with skin cancer, and I’m so worried about my baby’s skin. How did you protect your kids?
Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: As a dermatologist, I was always more freaked out about skin things, than nonskin things. Even though I had to pass the boards to practice medicine, I would all of the sudden forget everything I had learned when it came to my own kid.
Both of my babies were very sensitive to the sun, and they developed rashes whenever we were in the sun for extended periods of time. That was very stressful. I wondered if they were actually having a reaction to the sun, or if something else was going on. I discovered they were actually allergic to an ingredient in the sunscreen I was using. We put sunscreen on our boys pretty much all of the time, except during the winter months. Truth be told, we should be doing it then too!
Right away, we switched sunscreens. I found one that I love: Baby Blue Lizard. It’s chemical free because it protects from the sun using a physical blocker called titanium dioxide. You can buy it online for around $10 a bottle.
The key with sunscreen is that you have to reapply it every two hours, all over your body, even under your clothing. You also need to use a lot: a shot-glass size amount on anyone over the age of six months, every two hours.
It’s also very important to protect your baby’s eyes from the sun. Hats are great, and sunglasses are too. The ultra-violet rays of the sun can damage your baby’s eyes just as much as they can damage her skin. It’s very important to keep them protected.
When my sons were babies, I always made sure they were wearing sunglasses with intensive sun exposure.
—Mona Gohara, MD, a mom of four- and two-year-old sons, a dermatologist in private practice, an assistant clinical professor in the department of dermatology at Yale University, and co-founder of K&J Sunprotective Clothing, in Danbury, CT
Think your baby’s delicate skin is safe under her onesie? Think again! No standard onesie or T-shirt provides adequate protection from the sun during daily play-and certainly not on a day at the beach. Regular cotton has a ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of about 5. Most of the sun’s harmful rays go straight through it.
To complicate matters, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using only a minimal amount sunscreen on babies younger than six months.
But the danger of sunburn is very real. Just one blistering sunburn in childhood doubles a person’s lifetime risk of melanoma, which is a potentially fatal form of skin cancer.
The best way to protect a baby from the sun is with sun protective clothing. Yet some sun protective clothing contains chemicals. K&J Sunprotective clothing, invented by Mona Gohara, MD, a mom of four- and two-year-old sons, a dermatologist in private practice, an assistant clinical professor in the department of dermatology, at Yale University, in Danbury, CT, is chemical free. These shirts are UPF 50, and they block 99 percent of the sun’s harmful rays by their very tightly woven fabric.
K&J’s T-shirts are printed with fun graphics and cute sayings such as “I scream for ice cream.” They’re available in sizes 0-3 months to 18-24 months and cost $22. You can buy them at www.kjsunprotectiveclothing.com.