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posted: 8/21/2014 7:45 AM

Sunscreen: To Spray or Not to Spray?

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Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital

While summer may be winding down, the sun's rays are still heating up. Parents, it's time to put down the spray-on sunscreen. It may be your usual weapon of choice when battling harmful UV rays, but Consumer Reportsand dermatology experts warn against the easy-to-use and time-saving product.

While the traditional lotion sunscreen takes a little more time and effort to apply, there are no concerns of it putting children at risk for asthma orallergy attacks – a risk that the FDA has been researching since 2011 without a solid conclusion to report. "We now say that until the FDA completes its analysis, the products should generally not be used by or on children," states Consumer Reports.

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The director of consumer safety and sustainability at the Consumers Union and publisher of Consumer Reports, Urvashi Rangan, believes serious chemical harm can occur to children if they inhale the mist from a spraysunscreen cloud. Active ingredients oxybenzone or avobenzone can interfere with reproductive hormones while newer spray-on ingredient, titanium dioxide, could be carcinogenic when inhaled into lungs.

In addition, Dr. Abrar Qureshi, chair of dermatology at Brown University's Warren Alpert Medical school, believes lotion is to be better trusted for protection. "With sprays, people often don't apply enough to get the full sunscreen protection," said Dr. Qureshi in a statement.

Dr. John Beckerman, a pediatrician and chairman of pediatrics at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill., is a supporter of using lotion sunscreen as well.

"The only time I recommend using spray-on sunscreen is if there is no lotion product available," Dr. Beckerman says. "If that is the case, parents should spray the sunscreen directly onto their hands and then rub it on their kids making sure to avoid the eyes and mouth."

"Spray-on sunscreen releases chemicals that don't always hit the skin due to wind, squirming kids and other things. Repeated use on children who accidently inhale these chemicals is cause for concern," adds Dr. Beckerman.

While spray-on sunscreen has sleek and speedy appeal, lotion sunscreen seems to be the real hero. Taking the extra time to apply the lotion properly and effectively can be a challenge in our time-starved society, but it just may help beat the heat and reduce the risk of extra health-related problems.

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