How to Prevent & Treat a Sunburn

A tan is visible proof that your skin has been damaged by UV rays. Tanning is your skin’s response to overexposure to UV rays. Skin damage caused by the sun is cumulative. This means that long-term, daily exposure to sunlight adds up. UV exposure causes damage in the DNA of your skin cells.

bright sun in blue sky with fluffy cloudsWhat is a Sunburn?

A sunburn is superficial skin damage that occurs when your unprotected skin is exposed to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Two types of UV waves, called UVA and UVB, are responsible for most of the damage to the skin. If your baby or young child is sunburned, the sunburn can damage the DNA of skin cells. Damaged skin cells can lead to moles or even skin cancer. Any part of the body can burn – from the scalp, to ear tips, to arms, chest, and face. Only minutes of intense sun exposure can cause sunburn. After a few days, the skin tries to repair itself by peeling away the top layer of damaged skin.

Signs and Symptoms of Sunburn

The signs and symptoms of sunburn may include:

  • painful skin that is hot to the touch
  • redness or pinkness
  • swelling skin and/or small blisters that may break and leak fluid
  • headache, fever, or fatigue

Risk Factors

Babies and younger children can get sunburned in 20 minutes (or less in high UV settings). Light-skinned or red-headed children are more at risk to sun damage.

How You Can Help Yourself or Someone You Know with a Sunburn

If your or someone your know suffers from a sunburn, there are simple steps to help your skin recovery. Follow these steps:

  • Stay in the shade.
  • Take a cool bath.
  • Gently apply aloe vera gel to the skin.

Prevention of Sunburn

It is very easy to prevent sunburn in children:

  • Cover up—Wear sun-protective gear & clothing, ex. light clothing with long sleeves.
  • Avoid the sun during peak hours—In the northern hemisphere, the sun is most strong from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Apply sunblock regularly—Gently rub in sunblock about 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply after a few hours or if you get wet.
  • Check medicines—Some medicines cause the skin to become more sensitive to the sun. Speak to your doctor, to find out if any medications have adverse effects if you are exposed to the sun.
  • Eye protection—The sun can damage your eyes too. Sunglasses with ultraviolet protection can prevent this damage.