Babies have thinner skin and underdeveloped melanin, so their skin burns easily. Too much unprotected exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause skin damage, eye damage, immune system suppression, and developing skin cancer. Sunburn can also cause considerable pain and discomfort in the short term.
How to keep children safe from the sun?
Stay in the shade: Encourage your child to play in the shade, especially between 10am and 4pm, when the sun is at its strongest. Children playing in water and babies under the age of 6 months are especially vulnerable.
Use sunscreen: Apply sunscreen to your child on the areas that are not protected by clothing, such as the face, ears, feet and backs of hands, even on cloudy or overcast days. Use one that has SPF15 or higher and protects against UVA and UVB. When swimming, use a water-resistant sunscreen of SPF15 or above. Do not use sunscreen on children age below 6 month.
Cover up: Cover your child up in loose cotton clothes, such as an oversized T-shirt with sleeves. Be especially careful to protect your child’s when they’re playing in water because then they don’t realize that it’s hot.
Wear sunglasses: Protect your child’s eyes with sunglasses that provide 100% UV protection.
What are the symptoms of sunburn?
- Pain and a sensation of heat which tends to get worse several hours after sun exposure
- The skin can become dry, itchy, and tight.
- Sunburned skin begins to peel about a week after
- Some can also get chills
How to treat sunburn?
- Have your child take a cool bath, or gently apply cool, wet compresses to the skin to help ease pain and heat.
- Encourage your child not to scratch or peel off loose skin because skin underneath the sunburn is at risk for infection.
- Apply pure aloe vera gel or moisturizing cream to rehydrate the skin and treat itching
- If your doctor approves, give your child an anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen to ease the pain and itching. Diphenhydramine also may help
- Keep your child out of the sun until the sunburn is healed
Things not to do:
- Do not use petroleum-based products, because they prevent excess heat and sweat from escaping
- Do not give aspirin to children or teens
- Avoid first-aid products that contain benzocaine, which may cause skin irritation
- Do not use sunscreen on children age below 6 month
When to get medical help?
If the sunburn is severe and blisters develop, call your doctor. Tell your child not to scratch, pop, or squeeze the blisters, which can get infected and cause scarring.
Dr. Piyawut Kreetapirom, MD. (1 July 2020)