Kids Health Matters: Preventing and treating sunburn

WILMINGTON, Delaware (WPVI) -- With the start of school just weeks away, many families are grabbing some final vacation trips. But as they soak up the sun, they may get an unwanted vacation memory - a sunburn.

Back-to-school shopping has begun, but Little League baseball isn't finished yet, pools are still busy places, and everyone wants to get as much beach time as they can.

"We usually show up on the beach around like 9 - 9:30 am and stay till like now, which is around 2:00 pm," said Caitlyn Peck.

Dr. Kate Cronan sees plenty of sunburns in the emergency department at Nemours duPont Hospital. They're usually in spots that didn't get enough - or any - sunscreen.

"In little kids, I often see it on the back of their neck, their back, their arms, sometimes their feet at the beach, like people walking the beach" she said.

No matter how you get a sunburn, cool it right away.

"The very first thing is to take cool cloths and apply them, put them over the burn, wherever the burn is," said Dr. Cronan. "It's not going to make the sunburn go away, but it's going to give the child relief for a while."

Aloe vera gel can also be comforting. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can also relieve pain - but be sure to follow the dosing directions.

However, stay away from benzocaine, and numbing sprays.

"They're not really recommended for kids, and sometimes there can be absorption of that medicine into the skin," said Dr. Cronan.

Extra water and other liquids for 2 or 3 days can help.

And get emergency care if your child has these signs:

- Red, blistering skin
- Facial Swelling

- Headache, confusion, or feeling faint
- Fever and chills
- Siigns of dehydration, such as increased thirst

But Dr. Cronan says preventing sunburns is important, because they raise the risk for skin cancer later.

And there's one sunburn that doesn't happen outdoors.

"Teens come with pretty significant burns from tanning beds," she said.
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