Boy Is Allergic To Light

Sandra and Steve Webb's four-year-old son Alex is Little Master Darkness...just 15 minutes in normal daylight could put his life at risk.

He's fated to spend most of his life indoors due to a rare genetic skin condition which means even short periods of exposure to ordinary light can cause burning and,ultimately,skin cancer.

He has special UV-resistant clothing,including a legionnaire's-style hat to cover his head,sunglasses,gloves, and a mask made from a revolutionary plastic which filters harmful rays.

Put together,the whole outfit has the effect of making Alex look like a miniature spaceman.

A special plastic film covers the windows of the family house and car and also the windows of the pre-school he attends at High Wycombe,Bucks.

The condition,Xeroderma Pigmentosa,means Alex's skin has no natural defence against UVA and UVB rays.

Parents Sandra,42,and Steve,44,from High Wycombe,Bucks,have to check endlessly for freckles and moles which can become life-threatening malignant melanomas.

Alex is energetic,fun-loving and outgoing - but he still can't understand why he can't join his sister,six-year-old Holly,when she goes out to play in the spring sunshine.

Sandra says "Holly tends to be very good about it,and stays in between 11am and 3pm, the most dangerous time of day for Alex."

He has to have sun cream applied to him every couple of hours during the day.

"But he can wear normal clothing inside and enjoy the same activities as his classmates," adds Sandra.

Last month,the whole family took part in the first ever Moonlight Camp,held in the German Alps,where children from Europe with the condition got to play outside - in the dark.

"It was absolutely brilliant" says Sandra,who with Steve has established a British society for the condition.

"When the sun went down,the children went out to play in the beautiful pine forest winter setting.

"Alex's confidence was boosted no end by having the chance to meet other kids with the same condition,and we benefitted too."