Choosing the right sunscreen and bug spray for children

UNC Children's Dr. Craig Burkhart, a pediatric dermatologist, talks with ABC11-WTVD about the best ways to safely and effectively protect your family from sunburn and insect bites in the final weeks of summer.

Click to view the WTVD report on sunscreens and bug sprays.

August 11, 2015

A news report from ABC11-WTVD notes there's still time to enjoy summer and offers tips on keeping sunburn and bug bites from ruining the final weeks of the season.

Craig Burkhart, MD, an associate professor of pediatric dermatology at the UNC School of Medicine, has this advice for protecting kids age 6 months and older: "Sunscreens, you want to be SPF 30 or greater, broad spectrum, ideally water resistant, and you want to reapply every two hours. That's important with kids."

He adds, "Extreme sun exposure, extreme ultraviolet exposure increases your child's risk for skin cancer usually 10 years down the line."

Dr. Craig Burkhart
Despite the debate over certain ingredients used in sunscreen, particularly products with oxybenzone and benzophenone-3, Dr. Burkhart says the American Academy of Pediatrics has deemed them safe when used per the instructions but recommends sunscreens with "physical blockers" like titanium and zinc are also options for those concerned about the chemicals.

As for insect repellent, Dr. Burkhart advises to apply after sunscreen, adding that it's safe for children as young as 2 months old, including products with DEET as long as one stays below 30 percent concentration when applying to children. He cautions, "Don't put it on their hands, don't put it around their eyes, mouths, or on open wounds."