Overexposure to the sun can cause a sunburn, which is usually a mild first degree burn that causes redness and pain a few hours after the exposure, with worsening of the symptoms over the next twenty-four hours. More serious sunburns can also cause blistering of the skin (second degree burn). The main treatment of a sunburns involves control of pain and includes use of an acetaminophen or ibuprofen containing product for a few days. You can also use moisturizers and a 1 percent hydrocortisone cream three times a day, cool baths or wet compresses, and drinking lots of fluids. If peeling occurs you can continue to apply a moisturizer until the skin heals.
Tips to protect your child from sunburns:
- Wear protective clothing, including a hat and long sleeve shirt and long pants. Keep in mind that most clothing only has a SPF of 5-9, so you can still get sun damage with a shirt on.
- Limit exposure to the sun when it is at its strongest (10am-4pm).
- Protect your child's eyes with sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB radiation.
- Use sunscreen daily, even if it is cloudy, since most of the sun's radiation penetrates clouds and can still cause sunburn.
- Consider using a sunscreen with ingredients (such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) that physically block the sun's radiation if your child has sensitive skin.
- Use a higher SPF if you are using a combination product that has both a sunscreen and an insect repellent.