A: Most doctors suggest cooling the skin down with a cool compress or tepid bath (add some soothing baking soda or oatmeal bath powder) followed by a gentle, alcohol-free moisturizer. Aloe vera formulas are very popular for sunburns, but some kids are allergic to them, so it's best to skip this if you're not sure whether your child is -- the last thing you'd want is another rash! Sunburn pain typically lasts about 48 hours, so to keep your child comfortable and help him sleep at night, do this a couple of times a day, especially before bedtime. If the burn is very bad and the skin is inflamed, give your child a dose of ibuprofen (for babies 6 months and older) to minimize swelling and ease the pain.
Most of the time a sunburn isn't a big deal, but you should give your doctor a call if your child has blisters, feels weak or sick, complains of eye pain, or has a burn that looks infected (is draining pus, has angry red streaks, and gets worse after 48 hours). Though this is rare, you should call 911 if your child faints, is disoriented or unable to stand, or you have difficulty waking him.
To avoid sunburns in the future, be sure to limit exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. (when the sun is the strongest), reapply sunscreen (you'd be amazed how many people forget to do this) every two hours or after swimming or sweating, and find out if any meds your baby may be taking make her more sun-sensitive (some antibiotics do).
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