PARENTS have been warned to be on high alert for a summer mistake that could prove fatal.
Temperatures are set to rise this weekend, which means more time out in the sunshine.
But with this comes the risk of skin cancer, and experts have said that children in particular need to be protected during hot weather.
Kids have fragile skin, so they are more prone to get burnt, especially if they don't have the right sun cream.
Speaking to The Sun, Dr Sarah Carlick urged parents to take sun protection seriously.
She warned that even though we aren't yet in the hottest summer months, it can be easy to dismiss the power the sun has.
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"Once sunburned as a child, it can increase your risk of skin cancer by over 50 per cent as an adult.
"Unfortunately, once the damage is done, it's done, but there are ways you can protect your children from sun damage", she said.
Dr Carlick said that one of the best ways to protect your little ones, is to use a high factor sun cream.
"This needs to be at least factor 50 and should be reapplied after a few hours.
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"Stay out of the sun between 11-3 and if you can't, make sure the sun lotion is handy.
"Make sure it's a reputable brand and that there is sun cream on every part of flesh that is going to be exposed to the sun."
The safeguarding expert said that severe sunburn is a child protection issue, and highlighted that just being burnt once could increase you little one's risk of illness.
Dr Carlick highlighted that severe sunburn is when the burn is so bad that it blisters.
However she said that all sun damage could be fatal.
She explained: "If someone gets really red or pink and they do that maybe once or twice a year, then they are constantly increasing their risk of that skin cancer growing.
"You might think, 'oh they are just a little bit pink, it doesn't matter', but it really does.
"It compounds year on year".
MAKE IT ROUTINE
The guru also urged parents to put sun cream on their children before they go to school or go out for the day – making it part of their daily routine.
This is especially important, she said, when they are attending events.
Parents should take particular care if little ones are going to parties where there might be face painting, she said.
This is because if sun lotion has not been applied, then you can burn through the paint.
What is sunburn and how do we tan?
All skin types can be damaged by the sun, so it’s important to understand what it is and how it affects our skin.
Experts at charity Skcin said sunburn is a reaction to UV rays and is a clear indication that you have damaged your skin.
They explained: "Skin colour is dependent on a pigment called melanin. This is produced by specialised cells called melanocytes.
"Melanocytes produce packets of melanin called melanosomes and transfers them to the skin cells of the epidermis.
"Melanocytes are found throughout the skin. All races have the same number of melanoctyes. Black skin, however, has more melanosomes, giving better sun protection and more pigmentation."
When it comes to sunburn, these are the key points you need to know:
- One blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life.
- A person's risk for developing melanoma also doubles if he or she has had five or
more sunburns at any age.
- The sun exposure pattern believed to result in melanoma is that of brief, intense exposure for example a blistering sunburn – rather than years of tanning.
- Some people can develop sunburn after less than 15 minutes of sun exposure!
Kids should also wear a sunhat and t-shirts to make sure that their shoulders and chests are covered, she added.
"For extra protection sit in the shade, and you can even buy clothing that has UV protection built in.
"Use sun parasols if you can't find shade and always keep a small bottle of sun cream in your bag.
"Just like you take your purse or hand sanitiser. Keeping a little one of these in your bag is handy.
"If the weather changes then you can always keep your child protected", she said.
Sarah's warning comes after one 40-year-old woman recently told how she was diagnosed with skin cancer, following childhood sunburn.
As a child, Emma Checkley was on holiday in Greece when her forehead and arms blistered.
Forty years after the trip, the mum-of-two was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma.
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She had to have the cancer removed from her forehead and her experience has made her more conscious when it comes to using sunscreen with her young daughters.
"Their aversion to sunscreen has gone and when they complain about sunscreen, I have said it is really important and now they see why", she told the BBC.
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