Finally, summer is here! We can now take our little one’s out and have fun at the local zoo, park or even splash pad! It is a great time for family trips to a local campground or to the beach, and who doesn’t love a good old walk in the park. While it is fun, summer can be very dangerous for one reason: the sun!
A lot of people fear the winter and cold weather when they have children. They are certain that their little ones are going to catch a cold or the flu. We don’t just fear the winter because of the threat of illness, we also fear it for many reasons. We fear that our children may just go a little crazy being cooped up inside, and if we do take them out to play in the snow, it takes a lot of work to get them all bundled up.
I have some good (and maybe bad news) for parents out there who dread the coming colder months. Summer may actually be way more dangerous than the winter. When your little one is bundled up, they are at least protected from the sun. In the hot summer months, the rays are out and they can be quite harmful for adults and children alike.
A parents go-to for summer months is sunscreen. We stock up and we lather our children from head to toe in the thick white cream. We never stop to think that we may actually be causing more harm that good when we apply this sun protector. Here are 15 reasons you may want to rethink the sunscreen on your little one!
15 Harmful Burns
A story went viral on social media a while back about a little boy who had received blistering burns from sunscreen. Unfortunately, he was not the only little one who suffered such burns from a product that was supposed to prevent this from ever happening. A Canadian mother thought she was doing the right thing when she covered her 14-month old in sun protection before venturing outside in the sun.
She noticed as the day went on that her daughter was actually getting redder and redder as the day went on. It wasn’t until the next morning until the mom knew that something was very wrong. Her daughter woke up and was extremely swollen, her face was bright red and there were tiny blisters starting to pop up on her face. The sun protection had caused 2nd degree burns, possibly because it was not meant for use on babies, but children, or it was a severe an allergic reaction. A lesson to all parents that if you are going to apply sun protection, make sure it is age and skin-type appropriate.
14 It’s Not For Everyone
No matter the age of our children, we want to protect them from the sun. It is important to read the packages of sun protection. It is quite clear throughout all brands of sunscreen as well as pediatricians that sunscreen should not be used on infants younger than 6 months of age. Their skin is to too delicate and absorbs products we put on them at a much faster rate than that of babies older than half a year.
Now, this doesn’t mean if you have a baby under 6 months you need to stay inside on those sunny days. It is good practice that if you take your baby out in the sun to make sure there is complete coverage. Most stroller travel systems have a pretty good canopy that should provide adequate shade coverage. If you stop at a park, make sure that you stay in a shaded spot and keep that baby out of the sun.
13 It’s Expensive
This may seem like a silly reason, but have you checked the price of sun screen lately? It is not cheap. My daughter has eczema and sensitive skin and is a baby. The sunscreen I reach for is Aveeno baby, it is very gently on the skin. It also comes in a very small package (about half the size of a normal bottle of sunscreen) the price for one of these is a whopping $18.00 Canadian.
There may not be a way to get around the price of sunscreen, but a good thing to do is watch out for sales and when you see them on a ridiculous sale, stock up! Of course, be warned that just like most products sun screen does expire so you will have to make sure that you don’t buy too much to only just have to toss it.
12 Toxic Ingredients
There have been many reports of harmful ingredients found in a numerous amount of baby products. First it was pesticides used on fruits and vegetables, or even the grassy lawn our children play on. Then there was the BPA found in many plastic baby bottles and pacifiers. These have all (for the most part) been rectified to comply with safety standards. Some eco-conscious moms have found another dangerous enemy out there: sun protection.
The Environmental Working Group released a report that was calling out many sunscreens for containing some pretty dangerous toxic chemicals. Some of these chemicals are retinyl palmitate and oxybenzone, we will discuss these specific chemicals later. It is also interesting to know that out of the 500 sunscreens on the market this group only endorsed 39 of them.
11 Retinyl Palmitate
If you have a bottle of sunscreen handy check the ingredients and see if it contains the chemical retinyl palmitate. According to the Environmental Working Group if your sunscreen contains this chemical it is most likely that the formula may encourage the formation of malignant, potentially cancer-causing cells in the skin.
The C word is very scary and one that we do not want to hear when we discuss a product we use on our children, we also want to know how accurate this information is. This chemical is not just found in sunscreen, it is found in many skin products for children and adults. Retinyl palmitate is considered a gentle and mild form of Vitamin A, it is used in sunscreen because it is thought to be gentle by nature, and it provides the antioxidant properties needed to protect against the suns rays. Maybe just use at your own discretion!
Oxybenzone is considered the most worrisome ingredient found in sunscreen. It can cause some pretty severe allergic skin reactions. It has also been found to be a form of weak estrogen and has potent anti-androgenic effects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has detected the chemical oxybencone in more than 96% of the American population, with levels being higher to those who used sunscreen regularly.
Due to the estrogen found in this chemical, when they tested adolescent boys who have used sunscreen regularly and who tested positive for the chemical had much lower testosterone levels. Of course, the advice is to avoid using any sunscreens that contain this chemical, and look for a more organic and natural sunscreen to use on you and your family. Some things are also very unavoidable, so it is sometimes just as helpful to have the information to share with friends or family.
9 Can Not Completely Avoid It
One Toronto mother knows that she can not completely avoid the use of sunscreen, it is just life and something we have to do to protect our children from the harmful rays. She also knows that she wants to expose her children to sunscreen as little as possible. When she takes her children out on a sunny summer day, she only covers her children places that are most likely going to get a sunburn. That means she will cover the nose and knees that are left exposed in the stroller.
She wants to make sure that she also allows her children to receive some of the natural and very healthy vitamin D that the sunshine has to offer. She also understand that every situation is different and if she were to take her children to the Caribbean she will of course be lathering them up, but for a walk around the block, she does not see it as necessary.
8 Shocked Mom
One mom was just like the rest of us and she thought she was doing the best possible thing to protect her child during the hot summer months, applying sunscreen. Lesa Hannah is a magazine beauty editor and first became alarmed after she attended a presentation by a natural beauty products line that was highlighting the damaging ingredients found in sunscreens.
The Toronto mother stated; “my whole world crashed down, I didn’t know the possible dangers, especially where my daughter was concerned.” Until she attended this presentation, she had been painting her daughter in sunscreen, not knowing the possibly dangerous chemicals found in the mass produced brands of sun protection. She now looks and pays any price for the most natural formulas that contain absolutely no dangerous chemicals.
7 More Dangerous Than The Sun
It seems pretty ironic that one of the main reasons we use sunscreen is to protect our skin from the sun, which over time has the potential to cause skin cancer. The reason this is ironic, is that there have been numerous claims that sunscreen can actually cause skin cancer. Due to all those chemicals that are pumped into them.
It seems in this day and age you just can’t win as a mother. You seem to do one thing right, but as soon as you got it figured out, there is a study or a research that is released that tells you what you are doing will cause some form of cancer or other illness. The best advice to take is to do what is truly best for you and your family. It is always good to be aware of what is good and bad for you and your children, but there can be a time when too much information is not a good thing.
6 Convenient Sunscreen
One of the most wonderful and convenient sunscreens on the market right now is the spray sunscreens. It seems like a wonderful solution to the many problems a lot of parents have; actually getting the lotion on the skin. Most babies do not like to get sunscreen put on, so when you put it in a spray can it just seems like a genius invention.
There is a big problem with the spray sunscreens though, they are hard to control. Just like anything that you spray out of a can, including cleaning products. It is hard to control the mist that comes out of it, and it can be very easy for a child to accidentally inhale the toxic liquid. If we already think that there are ingredients in sunscreen that are toxic and that can be absorbed by the skin, imagine the repercussion if these are inhaled directly?
5 Allergen Of The Year?
Is everyone ready for a really big word that they will not be able to pronounce? OK, the word is methylisothiazolinone. The American Contact Dermatitis Society has named this the allergen of the year, and yup it is found in sunscreens.
Allergens are everywhere, or things that have the potential to be allergens. When we hear or think about allergens, we most commonly think of foods, or other items that we ingest. We do not necessarily think about being allergic to skin products or soaps. There are many people who are allergic or at the very least sensitive to certain products, this can be especially true with babies and children. Not only are they young but their skin is young and very sensitive. This is why it is important to look for the most sensitive and natural formula when choosing a form of sun protection.
4 Bring On The Vitamin D
We briefly discussed this earlier, but I would like to delve into this a bit more. If you mention to anyone that you avoid sunscreen because you want to expose your child to Vitamin D you are bound to get some weird looks. Along with the weird looks will come tons of advice or comments that you should be more concerned about skin cancer. We all know and understand how serious and dangerous skin cancer can be, but we also know how important Vitamin D is for our bodies.
Most sunscreens completely block the body’s ability to make Vitamin D. If you look at the statistics; 75% of us are deficient in Vitamin D, very shocking. Another interesting fact that does not get talked about enough is that a deficiency in Vitamin D has been linked to a higher risk of cancer and heart disease. Here is another fact for you: heart disease kills more people annually than cancer!
3 All This Cancer Talk
So, we have mentioned cancer numerous times in this article, and that is because a lot of people believe that if you go out in the sun without protection you will inevitably contract skin cancer. Would it completely shock you to know that this is just simply not true? It has been used as a ploy by the sunscreen companies to convince you to use their product.
A study in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics states that: “Sunscreens protect against sunburn, but there is no evidence that they protect against basal cell carcinoma or melanoma. Problems lie in the behaviour of individuals who use sunscreens to stay out longer in the sun that they otherwise would. Safety of sunscreens is a concern, and sunscreen companies have emotionally and inaccurately promoted the use of sunscreens.”
2 SPF Liars!
When we choose a sunscreen, we often look for that little number on it known as the SPF. When we look for one for our child, we tend to look for the highest number that we can possibly find. I have only been able to find SPF 60, but I know that there are higher out there, and most moms would take an SPF of 1, 000 if it meant that their child would get better protection.
There is a problem with this SPF number. They usually are not accurate. Most sunscreens claim that their formula has a certain SPF, when in reality it is much lower than written on the can. This can be potentially dangerous, as it makes you think you are safer than you are and cause you to stay out longer, or wait before re-applying. Another interesting fact, is that no matter how much it is written on the bottle, no sunscreen is waterproof!
1 So What Do We Do?
So, I am sure you are all thinking what do I do now? I want to protect my child from the sun, but I obviously don’t want to rub them in toxic chemicals. There are a lot of other ways to protect your child from the sun. You can always look for those natural and organic sunscreens to use. Look for ones that are ‘mineral’ sunscreens. There are also many recipes online to make your own!
The best thing to do is cover up! This is undoubtedly the best protection against the sun is to cover up. This may not seem like a fun option in the heat, but there are many fabric choices that are extremely breathable and gentle on the skin. Always place a hat on your baby’s head, put them in long sleeves, and stay in the shade are just a few ways to provide the safest protection.
Sources: wellnessmam.com, essentialoilworld.com, annemariegianni.com, theglobeandmail.com, cbc.ca