While sunburns are uncomfortable and raise the risk of developing skin cancer for everyone, sunburns can be particularly dangerous for infants and young children. Although it’s ideal to be watchful and deliberate about sun protection, it’s equally crucial to know what to do if a sunburn does happen. In Part 4, we looked at a variety of remedies for older kids, teens and adults who get a typical sunburn. However, if a sunburn is particularly severe or affects a small child, you may want to take additional precautions to assess any damage that may go beyond the skin’s surface and to lessen the likelihood of long-term skin damage.
Sunburn Severity Assessment
Of course, you won’t visit the emergency room or your family doctor every time your skin starts to blush, but there are some situations in which receiving medical care is absolutely necessary. One of them is when a significant portion of the body has acute blistering. If you’re unsure, it’s better to get it checked out, because this kind of severe skin damage can lead to other issues.
Even if you decide that your sunburn is not severe enough to require medical attention, avoid intentionally popping or scratching at blisters as this could lead to an infection. Red streaks and seeping pus are indications of infection and should prompt a trip to the doctor’s office. Fever, chills, confusion, and a dizzy feeling are other infection-related warning signals.
Treatment of Sunburn in Children
What may seem at first to be just a minor sunburn for newborns and toddlers can actually easily inflict considerable damage. The skin of a youngster will be more delicate and “fresher” compared to older children. Fortunately, their skin usually recovers fairly quickly.
However, children under the age of six months should never be exposed to sunlight while the UV index is high, since their skin has not yet developed the ability to quickly heal itself.
If a child under the age of one does get sunburned, be careful to call the doctor after giving the child a bath with room temperature water to cool the skin. You should also seek medical attention if a small child over the age of one has a sunburn that blisters, is accompanied by a fever over 101 degrees, demonstrates lethargy, or is experiencing excruciating pain.
Whenever a child has a sunburn, regardless of its severity, it’s important to encourage fluid intake and monitor the child’s urination. Dehydration is a worry if regular urine is not happening. Additionally, make sure to give brief washes and pat, rather than massage, your child’s skin dry afterward.
Applying a mild moisturizer should also be done with extreme care. In order to avoid further drying of the skin, avoid using calamine lotion if it contains antihistamines in the ingredient list. Avoid medicinal creams unless a doctor specifically instructs you to do so. Naturally, you should take extra care to prevent your child’s skin from getting direct sun exposure while it is healing.
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