I was just at a conference where a pediatric dermatologist spoke about sun safety and sunscreen. He shared several bits of information I found interesting. A recent hot topic has been the safety and effectiveness of traditional chemical sunscreens vs mineral based sunscreens (zinc oxide or titanium dioxide). When asked what the best sunscreen is, his answer was “whatever the child and family is willing to use,” which is certainly true. Both chemical and mineral sunscreens are safe and work well when used appropriately- applied 30 minutes prior to going outside and every 2 hours after that. He did mention for people with eczema or sensitive skin, mineral sunscreens are preferred, as there is less likelihood of skin irritation.
A debate in my own household is the effectiveness of spray sunscreen vs traditional cream or lotion sunscreens. My husband and daughter like the spray sunscreen, and I understand the convenience of it, but I feel it doesn’t cover as well as traditional sunscreen lotion. At the conference, we learned that spray sunscreen is only as effective as cream sunscreen if the spray is applied, rubbed in, allowed to completely dry, then applied a second time, rubbed in and allowed to dry. So, we are still using spray sunscreen in our family, but now applying twice before going outside.
The final point I want to share is about what parts of the body are most likely to sustain sunburn. The dermatologist at the conference shared that the most common body areas for skin cancer to develop are the nose, ears, shoulders, neck, and back due to years of inadequate sunscreen application and subsequent sun damage.
Bottom line: We want families to be active and spend time outside and keep skin safe. Use whatever sunscreen works for your family, keeping in mind that mineral based sunscreens are slightly better for eczema and sensitive skin, and if you are using a spray sunscreen, make sure you apply twice before going outside. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and remember to get those “high burn” areas: the nose, ears, shoulders, neck, and back.