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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Sun can be dangerous to children

Friday, June 20, 2003

Sheri Jackson (right) reapplies sunscreen on niece, Kyndal Jones, 9, while Kyndal's cousin, Catherine Jackson, 9, patiently waits her turn
(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Sheri Jackson and sister-in-law, Traci Jones, were busy putting sunscreen with SPF 45 on their children Thursday at the Sikeston Country Club pool.

Before getting in the pool, one of Jackson's children, told her, "Mama, I'm all covered. I got my tummy and my face."

Jackson nodded with approval. And with that, the little girl hopped into the pool with her siblings and cousins.

"We go to the lake a lot," Jackson noted. "So we're always using sunscreen. We usually put it on and reapply after we eat lunch."

Jones also said her family always uses sunscreen, adding that they even use glitter sunscreen. The kids like it, she said.

Pediatrician David Lawrence recommended those, especially children, who are exposed in sunlight to wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

"Sunscreen should especially be applied to parts that burn easily such as the back and face, the nosebridge -- anywhere the skin is thin," Lawrence said.

Over at the Jaycee pool, Debbie Miller and Jana Calbert were watching their children during swimming lessons, when the discussion of sun protection came up.

"My 2-year-old son has a fair complexion," said Miller, who uses sunscreen with an SPF 50. "His face got burned once -- we learned from that. Now, we always put sunscreen on. We even put it on his ears."

Those who have a light complexion, freckles or moles have a higher chance of getting a sunburn, Lawrence said. The same applies to adults.

"If you're going to be out in the sun all day, you should apply sunscreen at least three or four different times," Lawrence said.

Calbert said she uses adhesive patches to determine when it's time to reapply sunscreen.

"They look like little stickers or tattoos," Calbert said. "When it's time to put more sunscreen on, they change color."

Lawrence said the patches are a good idea. They give parents an idea of when the protection wears off, he explained.

A Boston University survey of young Americans, ages 12 to 18 found that only a third regularly use sunscreen. The survey, published last year in the Journal of Pediatrics, also found that 83 percent had at least one sunburn the previous summer and 36 percent had three or more.

"Sun protection for people under the age of 25 is especially crucial," noted Lawrence. "With children, their skin is still growing and lots of cells are developing so they need all the protection from the sun and ultraviolet rays as possible."

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is measured by how long it takes to develop a sunburn.

"The lower grades or numbers, are for mild exposure, but if you're going to be spending a lot of time at the pool or playing outside, then you should use a higher grade with more protection protections, such as 30 or 45," Lawrence explained.

Dr. James Spencer, a dermatologist from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and a spokesman for the American Academy of Dermatology told the Associated Press even getting sunburns once in a while does matter.

"The likelihood of developing skin cancer and wrinkles increases with the more sun you get," Spencer said. "But even just a few bad sunburns increases the risk of developing melanoma, the most deadly skin cancer."

If parents plan to be in the sun with their child who is older than 6 months, try to avoid the peak hours of intense sunlight -- between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., according to SafeChild.net. If their child must be in the sun during these times, make efforts to cover the child with long sleeves, hats and stroller shades, and always use sunscreen.

Lawrence recommended avoiding sun exposure, especially from noon to 2 p.m., when the sun is at its worst.

"If you or your child does get a sunburn, apply an aloe soothing cream to the burn," Lawrence advised. "Don't use alcohol. If the burn is red and painful, you should contact your physician."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.