How should sunburn be managed?

Every effort must be made to prevent severe sunburn as it may permanently damage the skin and increase the risk of melanoma and skin cancer in adulthood. Children should not be exposed to prolonged periods in the sun, especially between 10 am and 4 pm. Hats, protective clothing and sunscreens should become part of a national campaign against sun damage. This is particularly important in infants and fair-skinned children who have very sensitive skins. Sunburn presents with redness and pain in areas exposed to excessive sunlight. Blisters and swelling can occur in severe cases.

Put a sunscreen on the child’s exposed skin whenever he or she goes into the sun. Always use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15.

When the sunburn is first noticed, cool the child in a bath or shower. A simple moisturizing cream can be used to sooth the inflamed skin. Give children with severe sunburn frequent drinks of water to correct dehydration. Paracetamol may be needed for pain. The redness and pain resolves in a few days. This is often followed by peeling and itching of the affected skin.

Children should be protected by a hat, clothing and sunscreen when going out into the sun.

Ultraviolet rays penetrate and damage the skin. Ultraviolet ray damage in childhood is an important cause of later skin cancer. Topical steroids may be used in severe sunburn.

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