Posts Tagged ‘sunblock’

Sunscreen safety for pregnant women

Friday, June 6th, 2014

mom and child in sunSummer is here! Sunscreen is important whenever you are outside, especially if you are pregnant. During pregnancy your skin is more sensitive to sunlight than it was before pregnancy. The sun gives off ultraviolet radiation (UV) which can increase the risk of skin cancer, give you a bad burn and increase signs of aging.

There are two types of rays that can cause skin damage. These are ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B radiation (UVA and UVB). Both of these can cause premature aging and skin cancer however UVB rays are what cause sunburn. It is important to choose a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB. But, choosing the right sunscreen to slather on can be confusing.

Here are tips on choosing the right sunscreen for you:

•    Avoid retinyl palmitate This type of vitamin A has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer and is associated with a risk of birth defects.
•    Choose sunscreen with a sun protected factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
•    Only use products that have UVA and UVB protection – also called Broad Spectrum protection
•    Use a water resistant sunscreen if you intend to go swimming
•    Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if you are swimming or sweating (even if you use water resistant sunscreen).
•    Limit your time in the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun rays are most intense.

Combination products

To fend off those pesky mosquitoes, there are also combination sunscreen products that include bug spray. These can be  great two-for-one products, but combination sunscreens may be more hazardous that you thought. A combination product has the possibility of toxic exposure, due to overdosing on the bug repellant. It’s safe to apply the combination lotion first, but when it’s time to reapply, skip the combination and just use sunscreen.

Read our post for specific tips on how to keep your baby safe in the sun.

Have fun outside this summer, but wear your hat, sunglasses, stay well hydrated and remember your sunscreen!

Is baby getting enough vitamin D? Are you?

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

We have long said, and still do, that breastmilk is best for infants. It is full of important minerals and nutrients to help your little one grow. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t contain enough vitamin D to meet the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines.

Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium and phosphorus. Breastfed babies need an additional 400 IU of vitamin D each day until they’re weaned to fortified formula and can drink at least one liter (about 4 ¼ cups) every day. Starting at age 1, babies drinking plenty of milk fortified with vitamin D may no longer need a vitamin D supplement.

As your children grow and start eating solids, include foods that are rich in vitamin D, like fatty fish, eggs, and milk. But be aware that older children and even adults have a hard time getting the recommended levels of the vitamin through food alone.  Check with your child’s doc to see if she should take a supplement with 400 IU to 600 IU. That amount is often included in chewable multivitamins which most kids like taking. Children with some chronic diseases such as cystic fibrosis may be at increased risk for vitamin D deficiency and may need an even higher dose in a supplement.

You may have heard that the body makes its own vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet B (UBV) rays from the sun. While true, sun exposure can be hazardous to baby’s skin and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of 6 months avoid sun exposure. All other children and adults need to slather on the sunscreen throughout the day which can block the production of vitamin D. Pregnant women have particularly sensitive skin and should pay attention to sunscreen.

Important note: Be sure not to give too much vitamin D to babies. More of a good thing often is not good. High doses can cause a host of symptoms including nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, excessive thirst, muscle aches, or more serious symptoms. Some researchers are beginning to suggest that adults should take far more vitamin D than the 600 IU daily guideline. But too much may be dangerous. Very high doses of vitamin D can raise your blood calcium level, causing damage to blood vessels, heart, and kidneys. The Institute of Medicine sets the upper tolerable limit at 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day. Check with your health care provider for the right amount for you.

And what about additional vitamin D from the sun? Fortunately, you can’t get too much vitamin D from the sun because your body simply stops making more. But don’t forget that sun exposure without plenty of sunscreen can raise your risk of skin cancer. So, apply the sunscreen and take whatever supplement your provider recommends.

Sunscreen labels to be simpler

Monday, August 1st, 2011

sunburned-ladyWe’ve all heard the warnings about getting too much sun, and how you should use sunscreen.  So, in preparation for my family summer vacation, I went to my local pharmacy to pick up a bottle or two.  I was bombarded by so many varieties that I stood there for nearly 20 minutes trying to figure out what to buy. In addition to the many levels of SPF, there were many descriptions to consider, such as “water resistant,” “waterproof,” “sweat resistant,” “ultra sweatproof”, etc.  Yikes! It was such an overload of information that even I was stunned by it (and I like this sort of geeky, health care kind of stuff!).

So, I decided to do a little bit of research to try to get to the “bottom line.” It was then that I found out that last month the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) changed the labeling rules to make them more simple. (Please see their press release and this Medscape article for more info.) Manufacturers will have about a year to change their labels.

In the meantime, here is a short lesson on sunburn jargon…

There are two types of rays that cause skin damage – ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B (UVA and UVB). Both can cause premature aging and skin cancer, however, UVB rays are what cause sunburn. In order to be adequately protected, you need a sunscreen that protects against both kinds of rays.  With the new rules, manufacturers may only label a sunscreen as “broad-spectrum” if it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

SPF ratings refer to the protection factor from sunburn rays (UVB) and don’t protect you from the UVA rays – the higher the number, the more protection against sunburn. Think of it as your skin needing a thicker coating of the lotion in order to be sure that you don’t burn. You should use an SPF of at least 15. Anything less than that does not provide adequate protection. Under the new rules, the FDA is considering limiting SPF numbers to 50, as they do not see a substantial increase in protection with SPF numbers higher than 50.

The FDA will no longer allow the terms “sunblock,” “waterproof” and “sweatproof” (yeah!!!)  The term “water resistant” will be allowed if a manufacturer documents that their product keeps working even after you go in water for 40 minutes or 80 minutes. Hence, you’ll see the term “water resistant- 40 minutes” and “water resistant- 80 minutes.”  This labeling will be helpful in protecting kids who love to swim.

So, until the labeling changes go into effect, to protect your skin from sunburn, cancer and premature aging, here is the bottom line:
• only use products that specify “UVA and UVB” protection, with a SPF rating higher than 15;
• use a “water resistant” product if you intend to go swimming;
• reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating, (even if you use “water resistant” sunscreen).

And remember to limit time in the sun, wear cover-ups and hats, and drink plenty of water.

Tips for avoiding summer’s heat

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

beach-umbrellaWhen we have kids, we’re always thinking of protecting them.  We don’t want them to get sunburned or have heat stroke.  But often, we don’t take our own advice when it comes to protecting ourselves.  When pregnant, you can be extra sensitive to the harsh rays of the sun, to heat, to dehydration.  Don’t forget the following:

–  Slather on the sun block before going out, using an SPF of 30 or higher.  Reapply it regularly – goopify!
–  Wear a wide brimmed hat to protect not only your face, but ears and neck. Caps don’t protect as well.
–  Wear sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays, even with a hat.
–  If you wear sandals to help keep your feet cool, be sure to keep suntan lotion on your feet.  And put those piggies up for a rest whenever you can.
–  Walk on the side of the street that has shade.  (The sun is hottest between 10 AM and 4 PM)
–  Drink plenty of water.  Carry a refillable water bottle with you and leave one in the car.  Drinking slightly warm water is better than drinking no water.
–  Take a big umbrella with you to the beach and sit in its shade.
–  Reduce your level of activity when heat and humidity are high.