On warm summer days, kids love nothing more than playing outside or spending long days by the pool. However, those smiles can soon turn into tears if they get sunburned.
Children’s skin is susceptible to ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the sun, and the risk of sunburn increases when they spend long periods outside. Even when you are prepared for a sunny day, it is easy to miss a spot and end up with red and sore skin.
In this post, we look at some sunburn treatment and prevention tips so you and your kids can enjoy the great outdoors.
What is Sunburn?
Sunburn occurs when skin is exposed to UV rays, which can occur in as little as 15 minutes after going outside. Fair-skinned kids are more at risk, but anyone can get sunburned if the skin is not adequately protected.
Typical symptoms of sunburn include:
- Skin Redness
- Fever and Chills
The symptoms usually occur between 2 and 4 hours after the exposure and are at their worst for between 24-48 hours after the exposure.
How To Prevent Sunburn
Whether it is a scorching hot day or overcast, taking precautions to protect your child’s skin is essential. Many parents think you should only put on sunscreen during a day with blue skies, yet cloudy and foggy days carry even more risk as kids are more likely to spend longer outside because of the cooler temperatures.
The ultraviolet rays are strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so if your kids are going to be outside, you need to take precautions. The same is true if you are at higher altitudes or in areas with snow, sand, water, and reflective surfaces where the rays can still cause sunburn, even if you are wearing sun hats.
These guidelines are a good place to start for kids of all ages.
- Dressing children in appropriate clothing – lightweight cotton & long-sleeved clothing is ideal.
- Wide-brimmed hats & sunglasses. Also, use sun umbrellas if you are sitting outside in your garden or on the beach.
- Seeking shade during peak sun hours
- Always use sunscreen: Choose a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. You need to apply this 15-30 minutes before going outside, and it will need to be reapplied every two hours, especially after going swimming. There are special formulations designed for kids on the market.
- Stay hydrated: Make sure that your child is drinking plenty of water or juice throughout the day. When the skin gets burned or irritated, it loses water and this can make the symptoms worse.
How To Treat Sunburn
If you notice any signs of sunburn, get them out of the sun immediately. Mild sunburn symptoms can be easily treated at home. Start by applying cold compresses to the affected area and bathe them in cool water. This helps calm the pain and irritation; you can use cold compresses throughout the day.
Avoid using soaps or bath additives, which can further irritate the skin. Instead, use aloe vera products, as this moisturizes and soothes skin irritation, helping to reduce the discomfort your child is feeling. It is also possible to use age-appropriate pain control medicine as well.
Make sure that your child stays hydrated. Please encourage them to drink more than usual as sunburned skin doesn’t retain water, as well as healthy skin.
If the skin starts to blister lightly, monitor your child and discourage them from picking, as this will prolong the healing process.
When To Seek Medical Attention
If you notice that your child has severe sunburn symptoms, is dizzy, is in extreme pain, and has a high fever, seek immediate medical attention. They may suffer from heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Get in touch with your pediatrician if you’d like to further discuss the various treatment options.
Tips For A Speedy Recovery
If your child has sunburn, they’ll need to stay out of the sun until they are fully healed. Wearing loose, breathable clothing helps avoid further irritation and protects the skin from additional sun exposure.
Drinking lots of water and juice is also essential to keep the skin hydrated and aid recovery. Keep applying aloe vera moisturizer, which hydrates the skin and prevents peeling.
It is also an excellent opportunity to educate your kids on sun safety so they become more aware of protecting themselves when playing in the sun.
Prevention Is The Best Cure
It is easy to miss a spot on the skin or think you don’t need to apply sunscreen today, but prevention is always the best cure. Prioritizing sunburn prevention ensures your and your kid’s skin health and also enables your kids to develop good sun protection habits from a young age.
If you need any advice or are worried that your child might have a bad case of sunburn, please give us a call today to meet with one of our board-certified pediatricians.