Moms Columns & Blogs

In case of sunburn ...

Q. Despite using sunscreen, it seems that we occasionally deal with sunburns on vacation. What is the best way to treat sunburn?


Sunburn results from too much sun exposure. It’s extremely common, with most people experiencing sunburn to some degree in their


The most important way to treat sunburn is by prevention. Start by finding ways to improve your family’s sun protection:

  • Make sure everyone is using a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher that contains titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
  • Limit sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Keep infants out of the sun.
  • Remember to re-apply sunscreen every hour. This is especially important for older children and teenagers who spend more time in the sun.
  • Wear sun-protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.
If your child has minor sunburn with only a small area of redness, the main treatment is time. Sunburns resolve over the course of several days. The skin damage cannot be reversed, but the symptoms can be treated. The best way to care for minor sunburn is:
  • Avoid further sun exposure.
  • Place cool wet cloths on the burned area or take a tepid bath.
  • Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief.
  • Increase fluid intake.
  • Apply aloe vera ointment.
  • Use 1 percent hydrocortisone cream twice a day to decrease inflammation.
Blistering indicates more severe, or second degree, sunburn. If the blistered area is very small (coin-sized), then this can be treated similar to minor sunburn. Do not “pop” the blister. As the blistered area heals, watch for signs of infection such as pus drainage or increasing redness. If the blisters cover a larger area of skin, or if a very young child has second degree burn, then he should be seen by a doctor.

With widespread sunburn, a person may experience nausea, headache, dizziness and vomiting. If your child has any of these symptoms, seek urgent medical care because he could be at a risk of dehydration.