Experts outline ways to protect against growing risks of sunburn


MISSOULA, Mont. - The Skin Cancer Foundation says skin cancer cases are rising at alarming rates each year.

Missoula mom, Nisha DeAnda, makes sure she protects her 7-year-old son Jace before he goes outside.

"Before I even put his shirt on, I spray his shoulders and his arms. I make sure it's worked through. Then, I go ahead and get his hair as well. He won't wear a hat," said DeAnda.

That's important, considering people report more new cases of skin cancer each year than cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.

Specialists say the risk goes up with every burn, and five or more burns doubles the risk of melanoma.

"Sun damage is going to occur at any age. Melanomas can happen in young people. The skin damage that occurs young and proceeds through life will put you at risk for photo damage and skin cancers," said Cost Care family nurse practitioner, Josh Smith.

Shelbie Jarosch is a medical aesthetician for the Montana Center for Facial Plastic Surgery and says reapplying about every two hours, or by a product's directions is important.

"There's going to be more chemicals added, the higher the sun protection factor you go. If you are not reapplying and theres chemicals in the sun protectant, those chemicals will make your skin sensitive to the sun, so you are doing yourself a disservice by not reapplying," said Jarosch.

Experts say altitude is a big factor.

"The higher elevations are at a higher risk of burning a lot easier," added Jarosch.

To deal with higher elevations, Smith recommends wearing an SPF 50, broadband sunscreen, protective clothing and a hat.

A severe burn needs medical attention.

"You can get some blistering. In those cases, I would see a healthcare provider. Some of those blisters can lead to scarring," said Smith.

DeAnda says keeping a child protected is a non-stop job because the sun is a constant threat.

"Oh yes, it's a problem. It's just hard on their skin. They have such a long life to live. So, why burn so badly so early," said DeAnda.

Jace's mom recommends getting your child in the sunscreen habit early. She says it's made her family's sunscreen routine easier.

Overall, medical providers urge you to apply sunscreen 15 to 20 minutes before you go outside, wear protective clothing, and stay out of the sun during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.