Last update Aug. 30, 2022
Sunscreens make their action by absorption of UVA and UVB radiation. Most used products are Benzophenones 2 & 3 or Oxybenzone (BP-2, BP-3), p-aminobenzoic acid derivatives (PABA), 3-4 Methylbenzylidene camphor (3-4 MBC), Octyl-methoxy cinnamate (OMC), Salicylates, Avobenzone and Diethyl-phthalate homosalate (HMS), Octinoxate and enzacamene, among others. (EC 2009 annex VI)
Chemical sunscreens are absorbed and deposited in the skin and can reach important amount into the blood stream. (Collina 2020, Frederiksen 2013, Jimenez 2013, Janjua 2008 & 2004, Varvaresou 2006, Benson 2005, Sarveiya 2004, Hayden 1997)
Some of them have shown to have the potential of disruption of the endocrine system that may affect the genital-sexual tract and the hypothalamus-hypophysis-thyroid axis in the infant. (Fiveson 2021, Jimenez 2013, Krause 2012)
In various studies, these compounds have been found in breast milk in variable amounts, although much lower than the necessary doses studied with an endocrine disrupting effect. (Fiveson 2021, Anderson 2020, Molins 2018)
In any case, the long-term effects of chronic exposure to chemical protectors with an endocrine disrupting effect are unknown, therefore physical sunscreens are preferable during lactation. (Anderson 2020, Molins 2018)
Physical sunscreens act as a barrier that reflect all types of sun radiation. Most commonly used are: Zinc oxide (ZnO), Titanium oxide (TiO2) and Calcium or Magnesium carbonates. (Collina 2020)
Physical sunscreens are not absorbed by skin (Derry 1983), mostly on not-nanoparticle formulation. Because of this, these are considered to be of choice while breastfeeding.
Both types of sunscreens, whether chemical or physical, are environmental contaminants of the sea with deleterious effect on Phytoplankton and coral reef. (Fivenson 2020, Raffa 2019, Di Nardo 2018, Sanchez 2014, CSIC 2014, Downs 2014, Tovar 2013, RTVE 2013, Soto 2013)
Sunscreens should never be used as substitute of other preventive measures known to be more effective like avoidance of long-lasting sun exposure, higher exposure hours, promotion of wearing of clothes, hats, sun glasses and shadowed shelters.
Do not apply it on the breast or cleanse it thoroughly to keep the baby from swallowing (Chen 2010). Creams, gels or similar products that contain paraffin or mineral oil should not be used on the nipple to avoid absorption by the infant. (Concin 2008, Noti 2003)
Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.
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e-lactancia is a resource recommended by Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine - 2006 of United States of America
Would you like to recommend the use of e-lactancia? Write to us at corporate mail of APILAM