Dr. Downie’s Advice On Keeping Children’s Skin Safe

It’s summer, which means that you and your children will be outside more. Whether you’re at the playground, the pool or the beach, you’ll be getting  more sun exposure than usual. Unless you’re living under a rock, you know that keeping your children’s skin safe is important. About 3 million cases of forms of skin cancer occur yearly in the US alone.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Melanoma is one of the two most common cancers of young Americans, and children who have had a sunburn at an early age are at almost double the risk for developing melanoma in adulthood.”

Dr. Jeanine Downie, of Image Dermatology, is a board certified cosmetic dermatologist in Montclair  who frequently shares her expertise on a wide variety of topics in magazines, television, books and more. Most likely, you have read her advice in a magazine or seen her on television. She gave Barista Kids some great advice a couple of years ago.  She’s frequently on the Today show, in fact, she was on the day I interviewed her discussing summer skin rashes.

Dr. Downie spoke to me yesterday and offered some great advice on keeping children’s skin safe, her favorite sunscreens and more. Here are her recommendations:

  • Sunscreen should be broad spectrum and at least SPF 30 and should be worn every single day on any exposed skin–that’s 365 days of the year. Yes, even in winter or when it’s raining. Dr. Downie says that 77% of the sun’s ray come through even on the cloudiest day.
  • During the summer, sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours. If you’re in the Caribbean or at the beach, every hour. And if you get wet or sweating, you need to reapply.
  • You need to use about 1 oz. each time. That’s a shot glass full.
  • Dr. Downie is a fan of spray sunscreens, but says in order to cover all areas, you must spray and then rub it in. Her favorites for kids are Neutrogena Wet Skin and Aveeno Hydrosport.
  • For children’s faces she likes Neutrogena Pure & Free and Aveeno Baby.
  • Try to avoid the sun from 10 am – 2 pm.
  • Kids should wear wide brim hats in the sun.
  • Dr. Downie is a big fan of UV Protective clothing. A few of her favorite companies are:

The most important part is teaching your children that wearing sunscreen is a necessary part of their lives. Like brushing their teeth. According to a recent study conducted in Massachusetts by the AAP journal Pediatrics, which examined data for 360 children, at least half of those kids experienced sunburns before age 11. In a follow up three years later, the rates of sunburn remained high. Sun behaviors also changed; the older teens reported spending more time in the sun and using less sunscreen. In fact, half the children using sunscreen routinely at the beginning of the study no longer did so three years later, and only 25 percent of the children in the sample were still using sunscreen routinely at the follow-up evaluation.

We need to do better. Protect your child’s skin by teaching them the importance of wearing sunscreen. Put it on them daily and lead by example— your children should see you applying your sunscreen on too.

(Photo: Flickr)

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