- Red or blistered skin from sun overexposure
- The pain and swelling starts at 4 hours, peaks at 24 hours, and improves after 48 hours
Severity of Sunburn
- Most sunburn is a first-degree burn that 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.
When to Call for Sunburn
Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If
- Passed out or too weak to stand
Call Us Now (night or day) If
- Your child looks or acts very sick
- Fever above 104° F (40° C)
- Unable to look at lights because of eye pain
- Extremely painful sunburn
- Looks infected (e.g., draining pus, red streaks, increasing tenderness after day 2)
- You think your child needs to be seen urgently
Call Us Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
- You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
- Large blisters (over ½ inch or 12 mm)
- Many small blisters
- Swollen feet interfere with walking
- Blisters on the face
Call Us 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 MILD SUNBURN
Treating Mild SunburnIbuprofen:
Start ibuprofen (e.g., Advil or Motrin) for pain relief as soon as possible if age older than 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).
- Apply 1% hydrocortisone cream as soon as possible 3 times per day (no prescription needed).
- If used early and continued for 2 days, it may reduce swelling and pain.
- Use a moisturizing cream until you can get some.
- 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 ounces (60 ml) baking soda per tub.
- Avoid soap on the sunburn.
Offer extra water on the first day to replace the fluids lost into the sunburn and to prevent dehydration and dizziness.