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Staying Safe In The Sun

June 11, 2012, 6:06 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Staying Safe In The Sun

Between the swimming pool, baseball games and bike riding, kids spend a lot of time outside this time of year.  But all that sun can be dangerous.

Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, is rising in young adults. Some researchers think sunburns may be to blame.

With temperatures nearing ninety lately, children have been leaping into Sioux Falls pools, including four-year-old MaKenzie Cunningham.

"She comes out here all the time. We're here a lot," mother Danielle Cunningham said.

But MaKenzie's mom wants her daughter to have fun without the pain of a sunburn. That's why she layers on the sunscreen.

"She burns. I burn like no other, and we just peel and go back to white," Danielle said.

Despite the rise in melanoma cases in young adults, you don't have to tell your kid to avoid outdoor activities such as the swimming pool.  But you should take some safety precautions, that is, unless your child is younger than six-months old.

"Under the age of six months, I recommend shade. I don't recommend sunscreen on children under six months of age," Dakota Dermatology Dr. Kelly Jerstad said.

Dermatologist Kelly Jerstad says shade offers the best protection along with clothing. She recommends hats and shirts, including a long-sleeved swimming shirt for swimmers. You should also put chemical-free sunscreen on your children even if they're outside for just a few minutes.

"You don't expect to stay out maybe more than five minutes but before you know it, half an hour passes. You can get a sunburn as quickly as just a few minutes, especially early on in the year," Jerstad said.

Jerstad says a child's skin is more sensitive and susceptible to sunburns; something many parents are starting to pay more attention to, including Cunningham.

"It's important to keep your kids sunblocked up, otherwise you're going to risk cancer for them, which is something you as a parent have to watch out for them now because they can't do it," Cunningham said.

Tanning beds are also being blamed for the spike in melanoma cases.

The American Academy of Dermatology says you should use one ounce of sunscreen, or enough to fill a shot glass, over the exposed areas of your body, adjusting the amount applied depending on your body size.  You should also apply it 15 minutes before going outside.  For more information on sunscreen guidelines visit the American Academy of Dermatology website.

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