With so much conflicting information, it is easy for parents to be confused if they should apply sunscreen on their babies.
The Australasian College of Dermatologists does not recommend the use of sunscreen in babies under 6 months because baby skin absorbs more chemical than adult skin. Babies under 6 months should be kept out of direct UV light and be protected with clothing, shade and hat.
According to Cancer Council Australia, it recommends that babies should be kept out of the sun or well protected by clothing, hat, shade ... and the occasional use of sunscreen can be applied on small areas of the skin.
If you are going to use a sunscreen on a baby, Melbourne based dermatologist Dr Orchard recommends choosing one that is labelled suitable for sensitive skin and opt for mineral based Sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These are considered the safest option for babies under 6 months as they offer protection from UV light with less absorption through the skin surface. Always apply a small patch test first before using. As pharmacists, we believe the benefits should always outweigh risks. If you cannot keep you baby in the shade, the use of a mineral sunscreen should be considered as second line protection after light clothing, hat and shade .
For more info, see wiki.cancer.org.au/australia/guidelines.
Author: Helen Huynh
Pharmacist and Editor for ellé derm australia.