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First Aid & Emergencies

Babysitting: Dealing With Sunburn

Sunburn can begin after just 15 to 20 minutes of being in the sun. However, you might not notice signs of sunburn (like redness and skin discomfort) for a few hours.

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

Possible signs of mild sunburn are:

  • skin redness and warmth
  • pain
  • itchiness

Possible signs of a more serious 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 cream that has aloe vera in it to soothe the child’s skin.
  • Ask the parents if you can give the child ibuprofen for pain.
  • Call the parents right away if you think a child has a serious sunburn.

To help prevent sunburn:

  • Don’t let kids play in the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., 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 dry skin about 15 or 30 minutes before the child will be playing outside in the sun.
  • Re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours while kids are in the sun or right after they’ve been swimming or sweating.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: May 2013