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How to Treat Sunburn in Children

by kelly / June, 13 2018 01:30

Photo of a little girl in a white dress on the beach

I hope you never have to treat sunburn on your kid. It’s not fun. That’s why I advocate children wearing sunscreen, reapplying it every 2 hours, and practicing good sun protection habits everyday, year round. Of course things happen, especially with these little rascals. So worst-case scenario – your son or daughter gets a sunburn - what do you do?

Thanks to the Skin Cancer Foundation and the American Academy of Pediatrics here are some of their helpful sunburn treatment tips.

1. Call Your Doctor

If your baby is under one, sunburn should be treated as an emergency. Get in contact with your child’s doctor immediately.

For children over one, contact a pediatrician if your child is experiencing severe pain, blisters, fever, chills, headache or a general feeling of illness.

Usually sunburn signs appear six to twelve hours after exposure with greatest discomfort during the first 24 hours.

2. Drink Lots of Water

Make sure your little tyke drinks lots of fluids and is urinating regularly as sunburn causes dehydration.

3. Provide Pain Relief

You can give acetaminophen (Tylenol is an example) to relieve their pain but check the medicine’s package for the appropriate dosage level for your child’s age and weight (and/or ask your doctor). Personally, at each doctor visit my daughter’s pediatrician has updated the appropriate dosage level. It’s super helpful and I make sure to write it down.

Dabbing on calamine lotion may help but avoid ones with antihistamines in them. Or a light moisturizer could be soothing but don’t rub it in. And if touching their skin is painful don’t use any lotion. Don’t apply alcohol or any medicated cream unless recommended by your child’s doctor.

4. Cool the Skin

To cool a child’s skin bath them in clear, tepid water and/or apply cool compresses - like a wet washcloth - to their skin.

5. Stay Out of the Sun

Keep your little one out of the sun entirely until the sunburn heals. Getting sun on top of a sunburn is not the best idea.

Prevention is Best

Of course the first step in treating any type of sun damage is to prevent it (sunblock should be one of his or her best friends Smile). Remember infants under six months should not be exposed to the sun at all and doctors suggest not using sunscreen on them. For children over six months use sunblock (preferably all-mineral ones like ours) and read our “Sun Protection Tips for Babies and Kids” for more info.

For even more helpful sun safety advice for your kids check out these blogs posts:

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