Treating Sunburn in Children

sunglassbeachkidsYour baby's skin: soft, sweet-smelling, vulnerable.  You notice that when you're diapering:  irritation develops easily; a soothing cream clears it up like magic.

Young skin heals faster than older skin, but it is also less able to protect itself from injury, including injury from the sun.

Babies under six months of age should never be exposed to the sun.  Babies older than six months should be protected from the sun, and wear UV-blocking sunglasses to protect their eyes.  However, if your child is sunburned:

  • For a baby under one year old, sunburn should be treated as an emergency.  Call your doctor immediately.
  • For a child one year or older, call your doctor if there is severe pain, blistering, lethargy, or fever over 101 F (38.3 C).
  • Sunburn can cause dehydration.  Give your child water or juice to replace body fluids, especially if your child is not urinating regularly.
  • Give acetominophen if your child's temperature is above 101 F.
  • Baths in clear, tepid water may cool the skin.
  • Light moisturizing lotion may sooth the skin, but do not rub it in.  If touching the skin is painful, don't use lotion.
  • Dabbing on plain calamine lotion may help, but don't use one with an added antihistamine.
  • Do not apply alcohol, which can overcool the skin.
  • Do not use any medicated cream - hydrocortisone, benzocaine - unless your baby's doctor tells you to.
  • Keep your child out of the sun entirely until the sunburn heals.
  • Familarize yourself with the rules of sun protection, and make sure that no matter where you child goes - daycare, play dates, nursery school - sun safety is taken into account.