First Aid: Sunburn

First Aid: Sunburn

First AidSunburn can happen within 15 minutes of being in the sun, but the redness and discomfort may not be noticed for a few hours. Repeated sunburns can lead to skin cancer. Unprotected sun exposure is even more dangerous for kids who have many moles or freckles, very fair skin and hair, or a family history of skin cancer.

Signs and Symptoms

Mild:

  • skin redness and warmth
  • pain
  • itchiness

Severe:

  • skin redness and blistering
  • pain and tingling
  • swelling
  • headache
  • nausea
  • fever and chills
  • dizziness

What to Do

  • Remove your child from the sun right away.
  • Place your child in a cool (not cold) shower or bath — or apply cool compresses as often as needed.
  • Give extra fluids for the next 2 to 3 days.
  • Give your child ibuprofen or acetaminophen as directed, if needed, to relieve pain.
  • Use moisturizing creams or aloe gel to provide comfort.
  • When going outside, all sunburned areas should be fully covered to protect the skin from the sun until healed.

Seek Emergency Medical Care

If:

  • a sunburn forms blisters or is extremely painful
  • your child has facial swelling from a sunburn
  • a sunburn covers a large area
  • your child has fever or chills after getting sunburned
  • your child has a headache, confusion, or a feeling of faintness
  • you see signs of dehydration (increased thirst or dry eyes and mouth)

Think Prevention!

  • Minimize kids' summer sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Have kids wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and a hat.
  • Apply sunscreen that provides UVB and UVA protection with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.
  • Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure and 30 minutes after exposure begins, then reapply after kids have been swimming or sweating.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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