Posts Tagged ‘sunscreen’

Get outdoors but know how to protect yourself

Friday, June 9th, 2017

Family walking outdoorsTomorrow is National Get Outdoors Day. Now that the weather has warmed up, getting outside is a welcomed change in most parts of the country.

But getting outdoors has its own set of challenges – from bug bites to sunburn. Here’s a quick rundown on how to stay safe when heading outdoors, especially if you’re pregnant.

Bugs that bite and spread diseases

Ticks – In many areas of the country, especially wooded areas or places with high grass, Lyme disease is spread by ticks. Untreated Lyme disease can have cause complications during pregnancy.

Mosquitos – If you’re traveling, be sure to check the CDC’s map to see if the Zika virus is active in the area where you are heading. The Zika virus spreads through mosquito bites and through body fluids like blood or semen. If you’re pregnant, or thinking of becoming pregnant, don’t visit a Zika-affected area. Zika virus during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects.

What should you do?

Use an insect repellant (a product that keeps insects from biting you), like bug spray or lotion, that’s registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (also called EPA). All EPA-registered bug sprays and lotions are checked to make sure they’re safe and work well.

Make sure the product contains one or more of these substances that are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, IR3535 and 2-undecanone. If the product contains DEET, make sure it has at least 20 percent (20%) DEET.

Don’t put bug spray or lotion on your skin under clothes. If you use sunscreen, put it on before the spray or lotion.

If you have children: Most bug sprays and lotions are safe to use on babies 2 months and older, but don’t use products that contain oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years. Don’t put the spray or lotion on your baby’s hands or near her eyes or mouth. Don’t put the spray or lotion on cut, sore or sensitive skin.

Protect yourself from the sun

Nothing will stop your outdoor fun faster than a nasty sunburn. 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.

What can you do?

Before heading outside, lather up with a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Use only products that have UVA and UVB or Broad Spectrum protection products. Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before heading outdoors and reapply every 2 hours.

If you’re sensitive to sunscreens, try one with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as they are not as irritating to the skin. You can also cover up by wearing long sleeves and pants, and a wide brimmed hat.

Don’t use products that combine bug repellant with sunscreen. It’s important to reapply sunblock every two hours. If you use a combination product, you’ll be reapplying the bug repellant chemicals as well – not good. Too much bug repellant can be toxic. So, to be on the safe side, keep these products separate, or use the combination product once, and then apply sunblock only every two hours afterward.

Don’t choose a product with retinyl palmitate, especially if you are pregnant. This type of vitamin A has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer and is associated with birth defects.

Check the expiration date and don’t use it if it is expired. If your sunscreen does not have a date, write one on your bottle after purchasing. Sunscreens retain their original strength for three years.

Here are tips for keeping your baby safe while outdoors.

With a little planning and care, you can get outdoors and enjoy yourself tomorrow. Enjoy!

 

Sunscreen made simple

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

fun in the sunThe time has come again – to stand in front of the sunscreen aisle in search of the best bottle of protection for you and your family. The rows are filled with different brands, SPF numbers and descriptions – how are you supposed to find the best one? We’ve made it simple with our list of dos and don’ts.

Do:

  • Buy a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher as recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology.
  • Only use products that have UVA and UVB protection, also called Broad Spectrum protection.
  • Apply sunscreen on dry skin 15 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every 2 hours. Choose a bottle that is “water resistant” (effective for up to 40 minutes in water) or “very water resistant” (effective for up to 80 minutes in water) if you are going swimming.
  • Apply sunscreen every day you are outside, but especially if you are near water or sand as your risk of sunburn increases due to the reflection of the sun.
  • Generously apply sunscreen to all skin that is not covered by clothing. One ounce, the size of a shot glass, is the amount needed to cover exposed areas of your body.
  • If you or your child has sensitive skin, use a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as these products maintain their protection without being absorbed by the skin, causing less irritation.
  • For an extra layer of protection, wear a rash guard (a shirt made of spandex and nylon or polyester worn in the water to protect against sun and rash).

Remember:

Don’t use products that combine bug repellant with sunscreen. You need to reapply sunscreen often, but you don’t need to apply bug spray as much – the combo from excess bug repellant could cause toxic exposure.

Don’t choose a product with retinyl palmitate, especially if you are pregnant. This type of vitamin A has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer and is associated with birth defects.

Don’t use a sunscreen that has passed its expiration date. If your sunscreen does not have a date, write one on your bottle after purchasing. Sunscreens retain their original strength for three years.

For more information on how to select a sunscreen, visit here.

Have tips to keep you and your little one safe in the sun this summer? Share what has worked for you.

Have questions? text or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Staying cool in the summer heat

Friday, May 27th, 2016

sunBeing pregnant during the summer can be tough. Pregnancy already causes your body temperature to be a little bit higher than normal. Adding high outside temperatures and humidity can make you feel really uncomfortable.

Here are some tips to help as the summer approaches:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Water is the best choice. Avoid drinks that are high in sugar because they can make you even more dehydrated.
  • If you are exercising outside, try to do so in the morning or evening, when it’s not as hot. Swimming is excellent option for pregnant women. But if the air quality is bad or you have asthma, try to stay indoors.
  • Your skin is more sensitive when you’re pregnant so it’s very important to use sunscreen. A broad-spectrum (protects against UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher is the best choice. And make sure you reapply it regularly, especially after swimming or sweating.
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat to protect not only your face, but ears and neck. Baseball caps don’t protect as well. And don’t forget your sunglasses! They should block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Dark colors absorb more heat.
  • Heat can make swelling worse. If you experience swelling in your legs and ankles, avoid standing for long periods of time and try to elevate your feet when sitting or lying down.
  • If you do feel overheated, apply a cool damp cloth to your forehead and back of the neck.
  • If you feel weak, dizzy, or lightheaded, or you’re overly thirsty, stop what you are doing and get inside immediately. Drink some cool water or a sports drink and lie down. If you feel worse or if you don’t feel better within an hour, call your health care provider.
  • Be aware of signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and contact your health care provider right away if you have any symptoms.

By taking the appropriate precautions to deal with the heat, you can have a fun and enjoyable summer.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Memorial Day Weekend = picnics and parties

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend picnicThe long weekend is right around the corner and if you’re like me, you’ve been planning a gathering in the backyard for friends and family. This is the perfect time to celebrate the start of summer! Not only is my event outside in the (hopefully) sunny weather, but a couple of my friends are also pregnant. So I want to make sure I have appropriate food options that accommodate the hot weather and my guests.

Here’s my party checklist:

  • Provide non-alcoholic drinks for pregnant guests and those thinking about becoming pregnant.
  • Provide indoor space or shaded areas to stay cool.
  • Have sunscreen available.
  • Handle food safely. Wash your hands with soap before handling or serving food. Be sure to wash all fruits and vegetables before cooking or serving.
  • Salads and recipes containing mayonnaise should be kept cold and out of the sun.
  • Make sure your meats such as hamburgers and grilled chicken are cooked thoroughly to avoid salmonella poisoning.
  • Read up on listeriosis, a kind of food poisoning that is harmful to pregnant women to ensure the food you serve is safe for all to enjoy.

Now that your menu is properly prepared, you’ll be able to comfortably enjoy time with your guests.

Questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org

 

Summer safety

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

keeping-your-baby-safe-in-the-sun_rdax_50Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer. If you are pregnant or have little ones at home, there are a lot of safety concerns to think about as the warmer weather approaches.

Food:

Keep these safety tips in mind when preparing foods that are frequently associated with food-borne illness:
• CLEAN: Wash hands and food preparation surfaces often. And wash fresh fruits and vegetables carefully.
• SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate!  When handling raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.
• COOK: Cook to proper temperature. See the Minimum Cooking Temperatures chart for details on cooking meats, poultry, eggs, leftovers, and casseroles. After you remove meat from a grill, oven, or other heat source, allow it to rest for the specified amount of time. During the rest time, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful germs.
• CHILL: At room temperature, bacteria in food can double every 20 minutes. The more bacteria there are, the greater the chance you could become sick. Refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying

Sun:

Sunscreen is important for everyone! 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.

And a baby’s skin is thin and burns much more easily than an older child’s skin. This is especially true for babies younger than 6 months.

Here’s how you can stay safe in the sun:
• Do your best to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when the sun’s rays are the strongest. If your baby is younger than 6 months, it is best to keep her in the shade and out of direct sunlight.
• Make sure that both of you wear a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses. Look for sunglasses that have 99 percent UV protection.
• Dress everyone in lightweight clothes that cover arms and legs.
• Wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days. And reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours. If you are at the beach or the pool, reapply more frequently. Water and sand increase sun exposure due to the reflection of the sun off these surfaces.

Water:

Did you know that drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children between 1 and 4 years old? And it’s the third leading cause of injury-related death among children 19 and under. Here are some tips for keeping your baby safe around the water:
• Never leave your child unattended around water. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water.
• Avoid all distractions—including your cell phone! Young children need all of your attention when they are near or around water.
• Invest in proper-fitting, Coast Guard-approved flotation devices (life vests). For kids younger than 5 years old, choose a vest with a strap between the legs and head support.
• Learn CPR. It is a great skill to know. You can usually find programs in your community.

Remember these summer safety tips and enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

Questions?  Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

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 ingredients to avoid

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

sunburned-lady1Most experts discourage tanning whether you’re pregnant or not. When your skin tans, it’s trying to protect itself from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. These UV rays are hard on your skin because they:
• Increase the risk of skin cancer
• Give you a bad burn if you’re exposed to them for too long
• Increase signs of aging

UV rays are bad for everyone, but sunbathing is especially bad if you’re pregnant. Often, your skin is more sensitive to sunlight than it was before pregnancy, so you may burn easily. Sitting under the hot sun (or in a tanning bed) for a long time may make you overheated or lose body fluids (dehydrated). Both of these methods of tanning are bad for your growing baby. Also, UV rays may break down folic acid, an important vitamin that helps your baby’s brain and spinal cord develop.

So, if you are going to be out in the sun, what should you do?

Choose a sunscreen that does not contain retinyl palmitate, has an SPF higher than 15 (30 and up is better), and has UVA and UVB protection. If you are going to be going swimming or sweating a lot, then use one that is also “water resistant.”

Why not retinyl palmitate?

Consumer Reports (an independent rating company), conducted tests and suggest that pregnant women avoid sunscreens that contain retinyl palmitate, a type of topical vitamin A.  Retinyl palmitate “is an antioxidant that animal studies have linked to an increased risk of skin cancers. In skin, it converts readily to retinoids, associated with a risk of birth defects in people using acne medications containing them.”  To help you choose the product that is right for you, read the article on sunscreens as tested by Consumer Reports.

What about sunscreens that are also insect repellants?

Applying one lotion that protects against sunburn as well as bug bites sounds like a nifty idea. But, beware of using products that contain both sunscreen and bug repellant.  When you re-apply the product, you may be exposing yourself to too much bug repellant, which can be toxic.  Please read the warnings of using these kinds of combination products.

With a little knowledge and label reading, you will be able tosunburned-lady choose a product that protects you from too much sun exposure and is also safe.  Then, you can relax and enjoy your summer days in the sun.

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.

Sunscreen and bug spray

Friday, June 24th, 2011

sunscreenThis week it is officially summer! We’re all outside playin’ in the grass, splashin’ in the pool. We know it’s very important to slather on the sunscreen to keep ourselves and little ones from turning red as a beet. And if you live where the mosquitos hang out, you want to spray on bug repellant to keep those B52 biters at bay.

There are a couple of products that combine bug repellant with sunscreen. Sounds great, right? Wrong. The problem with a combination product is the real possibility of toxic exposure, overdosing on the bug repellant. We have learned from research that for maximum benefit it’s important to reapply sunblock every two hours. If you use a combination product, you’ll be reapplying the bug repellant chemicals as well – not good.

So, to be on the safe side, keep these products separate, or use the combination product once, and then apply sunblock only every two hours afterward. If you’re worried about the chemicals in bug repellant, here’s an alternative. Soybean oil based repellents are healthier for you and tests have found them to be as effective as a 15% concentration of DEET, lasting for 4 to 8 hours.