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Babysitting: Dealing With Sunburn

Sunburn can begin after just 15 to 20 minutes of sun exposure. However, symptoms of sunburn like redness and skin discomfort might not be noticed for a few hours.

Sunburn may not seem like a big deal, but repeated burns can lead to skin cancer.

Possible signs and symptoms of mild sunburn are:

  • skin redness and warmth
  • pain
  • itchiness

Possible signs and symptoms of severe sunburn are:

  • skin redness and blistering
  • swelling
  • headache
  • nausea
  • chills

What to Do

If a child has sunburn:

  • Take the child out of the sun right away.
  • Apply cool compresses to the reddened areas as often as needed.
  • Apply a moisturizing cream or aloe gel to provide comfort.

Call 911 immediately and then the child's parents, if the burn is severe.

To help prevent sunburn:

  • Don't let kids play in the sun between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM, especially without the use of sunscreen.
  • Use hats, sunglasses, and other protective gear on kids.
  • Apply sunscreen that blocks both UVB and UVA rays and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
  • Apply sunscreen on kids 15 or 30 minutes before they'll be playing outside in the sun.
  • Re-apply sunscreen 30 minutes after kids have been in the sun or after they've been swimming or sweating.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: October 2010

Kids Health

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

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