Your Baby Has a Sunburn -- What Should You Do?

by Julie Snyder

Baby Has SunburnYou were only outside a few minutes. How can your baby have a sunburn? You can probably relate to this mom's experience.

"I had my 7-month-old out in the sun for a few minutes today. Now his little face and head are getting pretty red. I feel so bad about this. I didn't think about it being sunny since it's still a little chilly outside. Is there anything special I should do since he is only a baby?" Cassie asks.

Has your baby has gotten too much sun? Learn when you should see the doctor and how to relieve sunburn symptoms.

All About Sunburns

A sunburn is basically a burn, but instead of caused by a pan handle or hot water, it's caused by too much exposure to the sun's ultraviolet radiation.

With most sunburns, your baby's skin burns pink or red. It feels hot and can be painful and itchy. This is a first degree burn and will probably peel in five to seven days.

When a fever accompanies the redness and pain or when blisters form on the skin, your baby has a second degree burn. Your doctor will want to look at the burn right away, even if the child's over six months old. These deeper burns could become infected and leave a scar.

You might be back in the house eating lunch before you notice a bit of pinkness. Symptoms of sunburn may not show up until two to four hours after the damage. They can get worse over the next 12 to 24 hours, with further pain, swelling and even blistering. It's no fun when baby has a sunburn.

When Do You Call the Doctor?

Accidents do happen. Understanding burn basics allows you to access the burn, provide immediate care and know when to ask for medical help.

If your baby shows any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately. For warning signs other than age, if you're unable to reach the doctor take your baby to the emergency room.

• Your baby is under six-months-old
• Your baby's skin has blisters or sores
• Your baby starts sweating, vomiting or faints
• Your baby shows signs of dehydration
• The burn covers more than 10 percent of your baby's body.

First signs of dehydration: Your baby may be dehydrated if he or she has cracked lips, a dry mouth and tongue and no wet diaper for six hours or more. Other signs include sunken eyes, no tears and a sunken soft spot on the scalp.

Treating Your Baby's Sunburn

For mild infant sunburn you can try the following:
✔ Cool the burn under running water
✔ Apply cool compresses to the painful areas to baby's skin for 10-15 minutes a few times daily
✔ A cool shower can help take down temperature if your baby has a fever
✔ Offer plenty of water or juice to keep your child hydrated
✔ Give acetaminophen (or ibuprofen if over six-months-old) if your child's temperature is over 101°F
✔ If the skin is not painful to touch, dab on plain calamine lotion
✔ Keep your baby out of the sun entirely until the sunburn heals

Sunburn Prevention Tips

Stay in the shade. Keep a younger baby in the shade. Provide a hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.

Avoid the mid-day sun. The sun's rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Try to spend these hours indoors.

Protect your baby's head with a brimmed hat.

Cover up. Dress your baby in comfortable, lightweight clothing that covers the body, such as a long-sleeved shirt and long pants.

Use sunscreen. Cover all exposed areas at least 30 minutes before going outdoors with a kid-friendly sunscreen if your baby is over six-months-old.

UV clothing: These garments block the sun's rays and protect kids from sunburn. You'll find them in fun designs and breathable fabrics. Keep a couple on hand to wear when you head out into the sun.

Has your baby suffered a sunburn? What helps keep the little one comfortable? What did you do to soothe the pain?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.