How can I protect my child from sunburns?


   By Megan Michaelsen
   Payson Office with Dr. Lauritzen, M.D.

Kids love to spend time outdoors year round, so it is always important to protect our children from skin damage that could potentially lead to skin cancer.

To keep kids safe in the sun, follow these tips.

A child under 6 months:
Infants have thinner skin and are more sensitive to the sun, so try to keep infants out of direct sun exposure. If there isn’t any shade available, use a wide brimmed hat or umbrella. When dressing your baby it is best to use lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and pants. If the sun cannot be avoided, sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15 should be used on areas that may be exposed to the sun.

A child older than 6 months: Use a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15. Fair-skinned children should have at least an SPF of 30. Protective clothing and accessories like wide brimmed hats, swim shirts, and sunglasses with UV protection are also recommended.

Type of Sunscreen: A sunscreen containing the words “broad-spectrum” is recommended as it protects against both ultraviolet B and A rays.

How to Apply: The average adult requires 1 oz. of sunscreen when applied. Make sure to rub the sunscreen in well and cover all exposed areas—especially the nose, ears, cheeks, and shoulders. Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure. It should be reapplied at least every 2 to 3 hours or after swimming or sweating. Set a timer to go off to remind you to reapply sunscreen in case you are too busy having fun to check the time!

UV rays are strongest between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Try to avoid sun exposure at this time. Sunburns can even happen on an overcast day because UV rays can get through the clouds. UV rays can also bounce off of water, sand, snow, and concrete.

How to Treat a Mild Sunburn:

If your child does get a mild sunburn, you can help by doing the following:

  • Replenish fluid loss by giving your child extra fluids.
  • Apply a cool compress to the burned area to reduce pain and burning. If the burn is on a large area, your child can take a 10-minute cool bath. Avoid soap as it may further irritate the skin.
  • Use pain medication to relieve painful sunburns. (see medication dosage chart)
  • Only use medicated lotions if approved by your child’s primary care physician.
  • Avoid further sun exposure until the sunburn is healed.

Call your pediatrician if your child’s sunburn is extremely painful and does not improve after taking pain medicine, the area looks infected, or if the blisters are larger than one inch in diameter or cover more than 10% of the body.

We want our kids healthy now and forty years from now. Help your child prevent skin cancer by preventing sunburns now.

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