Sunburns are a common yet preventable issue that can cause significant discomfort and long-term skin damage, including an increased risk of skin cancer. That’s why knowing proper sunburn care is a must. This blog post will cover essential tips for preventing sunburn, effective tactics for caring for sunburned skin, and important steps to take after a sunburn heals to maintain healthy skin.

Preventative Measures to Avoid Sunburn

Protecting your child from sunburns prevents immediate discomfort and reduces the risk of long-term skin damage, including skin cancer. Sunburns are most likely to occur during the summer months when UV rays are strongest, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The risk is also increased at higher altitudes, where the atmosphere is thinner, and closer to the equator, where the sun’s rays are more direct. 

Preventative Tactics:

  • Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to your child’s skin 15-30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every two hours, or more often if swimming or sweating.
  • Dress your child in protective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Seek shade whenever possible, especially during peak sun intensity hours: 10 am – 4 pm.
  • Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand, as they reflect UV rays and can increase the chance of sunburn.
  • Keep infants under six months old out of direct sunlight and rely on protective clothing and shade instead of sunscreen.
  • For infants under six months old: perform a patch test in small amounts of mineral-based sunscreen (SPF 30) before applying more and when you do, only apply on exposed areas.

Understanding the Types of Sunburns

Sunburns are typically classified into first-degree and second-degree burns. First-degree sunburns are the most common and involve redness and pain in the affected area. Second-degree sunburns are more serious and are characterized by the development of blisters, indicating deeper skin damage. These burns are just as serious as those caused by fire or chemical exposure and require careful attention.

Second-degree sunburns can be particularly concerning as they often cover larger portions of the body. It is crucial to seek immediate medical care if blisters cover more than 20% of the body or if the symptoms do not improve within two days. Prompt and appropriate care can help prevent complications and promote healing.

Effective Tactics for Caring for a Sunburn

Treating a sunburn as soon as possible can help reduce pain and encourage healing. While a sunburn might seem like a short-term issue, it results from overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays and can lead to lasting skin damage. This damage not only affects the skin’s appearance but also increases the risk of skin cancer. Therefore, protecting the skin from the sun and addressing sunburn quickly is essential. Here are several tactics to treat sunburn and provide relief:

  • Take cool baths or showers to soothe the skin.
  • Apply aloe vera or soy moisturizing lotion to keep the skin hydrated.
  • Use over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Drink plenty of water especially over the next 2-3 days to stay hydrated and help your skin heal.
  • Avoid further sun exposure until the sunburn has fully healed.
  • Wear loose, soft clothing to avoid irritating the sunburned skin.
  • Do not pop blisters, as this can lead to infection. If blisters break, apply an antibiotic ointment.
  • Use hydrocortisone cream to reduce itching and swelling if needed.
  • Apply cool, damp compresses to the affected area for additional relief.

Steps to Take After a Sunburn Heals

Once a sunburn heals, it’s important to take steps to protect and care for your skin to prevent future damage and maintain skin health. Here are some recommendations for post-sunburn skin care:

Moisturize Regularly: Continue to use a good moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated and help repair the damaged skin barrier.

Use Sunscreen Daily: Make applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 a part of your daily routine, even on cloudy days and during the winter months.

Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps keep your skin hydrated from the inside out, which is essential for overall skin health.

Avoid Exfoliating: Give your skin time to fully recover by avoiding harsh exfoliants or treatments that can irritate the skin.

Wear Protective Clothing: When going outside, wear clothing that covers your skin, including wide-brimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses.

Monitor for Changes: Keep an eye on your skin for any changes, such as new moles or spots, and consult a healthcare provider if you notice anything unusual.

Plan for Future Protection: Learn from the experience and plan ahead to prevent future sunburns by seeking shade, avoiding peak sun hours, and being diligent about sun protection.

By following these steps, you can help ensure your skin remains healthy and reduce the risk of further sun damage.

Wrapping Up Sunburn Care for Kids

Sunburns are not just temporary discomforts; they can lead to significant skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer. However, by implementing preventative measures, understanding the types of sunburns, and employing effective tactics for caring for sunburned skin, you can mitigate these risks and promote healing. Remember to take proactive steps to protect your skin from the sun, seek prompt medical attention for severe sunburns, and prioritize post-sunburn skin care to maintain skin health in the long term. With these strategies in mind, you and your family can enjoy the sun safely while keeping skin happy and healthy.

Sources: Nemours, Very Well Health, American Academy of Dermatology, Healthline