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What to Do When Kids Get Sunburned

By Sandy Schroeder

Preventing sunburn is an ongoing project with kids, and sometimes things go awry. Outings turn into all-day events. Some kids are just extra squirmy or are in and out of the water a lot. Or we misjudge the weather.

Harvard Health’s Claire McCarthy, MD, tells us what to do next when a child gets sunburned.

Reduce heat stroke or exhaustion risk - Get the child out of the sun. Move into the shade, or go indoors. Staying in the sun can make the situation worse.

Give your child enough water - Anyone who has a sunburn should drink more water than usual. Fill a water bottle and keep offering your child water.

Soothe with cool water - Pop your child into a cool shower or bath or wrap them in a damp towel when you are headed back from the beach.

Lower the pain - Consider using ibuprofen to reduce swelling and pain. Check the dosage with the child’s pediatrician.

Use aloe vera lotions or gels - Use a fresh aloe vera sampling from your own aloe vera plant leaves to soothe the sunburn. Avoid petroleum-based products that can trap heat inside the skin. Also avoid lidocaine or benzocaine products that can irritate sunburns.

Shelter sunburns - Have your child wear light, tightly woven clothing that blocks the sun. Also consider keeping the child indoors for a day or so.

Never pop blisters - That is a second-degree burn which is more serious.

Watch for danger signs - Call your doctor right away if the child has nausea, cramping, dizziness, vomiting or sleepiness that does not improve once they are inside and cooled off.

Use Sunscreen Wisely

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says sunscreens should meet certain standards.

  • Be broad spectrum to protect from UVB and UVA rays.
  • Be water-resistant to stay on in the water or when sweating
  • Have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to block about 97 percent of the sun’s rays.

Doctors say five sunburns in a lifetime can double the risk of skin cancer, which makes it especially important for children to avoid sunburn to reduce the risk as adults.

Often we become involved with the cosmetic issues in sunscreens, but we should all remember the real focus is to protect us from skin cancer first.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Lincoln, Nebr.

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