Experts say bad sun damage as a child can increase risk of skin cancer later in life

MADISON, Wis. — As southern Wisconsin prepares for more than a week of 80 degree days and families get ready to enjoy the sunshine, doctors want to make sure parents take the time to teach children the importance of protecting their skin.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, even one blistering sunburn during childhood can more than double a person’s chance of developing melanoma later in life.

The importance of applying and re-applying sunscreen is a lesson that should be taught to children at a young age.

“They get used to it. At first they don’t like that they have to get out of the pool, dry off, get more sunscreen on. But I mean it’s better than experiencing a burn and being in pain because of that. I think it’s important to teach our kids when they’re younger that these are important things so hopefully we can lessen the amount of skin cancers that we’re seeing later on,” said SSM Health Aesthetic Center physician assistant Amber Reynolds.

Reynolds said for children younger than 6 months old, they shouldn’t be using sunscreen. They should be protected with long sleeves, a hat or an umbrella.

For older kids, they should be using sunscreen with SPF 30 and above.

Be gentle when treating a child’s sunburn. To treat it at home, use lotion or aloe to keep it moisturized. A cold compress or shower can help with the pain, but Reynolds does not recommend using ice.

She said children can take Tylenol or Ibuprofen for the pain.

If the burn blisters, don’t pop it. Reynolds said if blisters have liquid that is not clear or your child develops a fever, that’s when it’s time to call a doctor.