Sunburn

Main Symptoms

  • Most sunburn is a first-degree burn which turns the skin pink or red
  • Prolonged sun exposure can cause blistering and a second-degree burn
  • Sunburn never causes a third-degree burn or scarring
  • The pain and swelling starts at 4 hours, peaks at 24 hours, and improves after 48 hours

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • Passed out or too weak to stand
  • Blister is present (EXCEPTION: small closed blister)
  • Unable to look at lights because of eye pain
  • Extremely painful sunburn
  • Looks infected (eg. draining pus, red streaks, increasing tenderness after day 2)

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 and 4) If

  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Several blisters on the face

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns

Parent Care at Home If

  • Mild sunburn and you don't think your child needs to be seen

Home Care Advice for the Pain of Sunburn

  1. Ibuprofen: Start ibuprofen for pain relief ASAP if age > 6 months. (Reason: If this anti-inflammatory agent is begun within 6 hours of sun exposure and continued for 2 days, it can reduce the swelling and discomfort experienced)
  2. Steroid Cream: Apply 1% hydrocortisone cream ASAP. If used early and 3 times a day for 2 days, it may reduce swelling and pain. Use a moisturizing cream until you can get some
  3. Cool Baths: Apply cool compresses to the burned area several times a day to reduce pain and burning. For larger sunburns, give cool baths for 10 minutes. (Caution: avoid any chill) Add 2 oz. baking soda per tub. Avoid soap on the sunburn
  4. Extra Fluids: Offer extra water on the first day to replace the fluids lost into the sunburn and to prevent dehydration and dizziness
  5. Expected Course: Pain usually stops after 2 or 3 days. Peeling usually occurs day 5-7
  6. Call Your Doctor If
    • Pain becomes severe
    • Sunburn looks infected
    • Your child becomes worse or develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms