Sunburn In Babies
A pond walk, a pool trip or a beachside picnic. There are several options for having a day out with your baby when the day is bright and sunny. But sunny days also carry the risk of sunburns, which in babies may be more than just skin darkening.
What is Sunburn?
Sunburn is redness, burning, and skin inflammation caused by sunlight exposure. A burn typically begins to show up two to four hours after exposure, and the color (and pain!) peaks 12 to 14 hours later. That’s when a bad burn can start blistering as well. In two or three days, redness will begin to fade, and skin usually begins to peel.
When it happens, a sunburn hurts, but down the line, it can be even more hurtful. In infancy or childhood, a single bad burn doubles one’s risk of developing the most deadly malignant melanoma of skin cancers in adulthood. Researchers estimate that over-exposure to the sun causes 90 percent of skin cancers and is thus preventable.
Causes Of Sunburn:
The harmful rays of the sun are causing sunburn. Because their skin is so thin and delicate, children are particularly susceptible to it. Here are the reasons why babies suffer from sunburn:
1. Not Using Sunscreen:
It is the most common cause that makes sunburn – prone babies. Even sunscreen – free-spending a few minutes under the sun can cause sunburns in infants.
2. Not Using Hat Or Umbrella:
The baby is exposed to UV rays due to the lack of any physical barrier like a hat or umbrella, which causes sunburns.
3. Excessive Outdoor Time During The Day:
It’s certainly a bad idea to spend too much time outdoors, especially between 10 am to 4 pm when the sun’s rays are strongest. Rays in the summer are harder and need to be prevented.
4. Being Light-Skinned :
Being light-skinned can mean more sunburn chances. There is less melanin in babies with a light skin tone. Direct exposure to the sun can give them a sunburn for just 15 minutes. Those with darker skin may usually tolerate the sun for an hour, but they may still get sunburnt.
5. Condition Of Skin:
Skin conditions such as lupus, an autoimmune disease, can make the skin of the baby sensitive to sun rays, thereby accelerating sunburn development.
Some medicines, like doxycycline antibiotic, make the skin vulnerable as a side effect to sunburns.
Signs Of Sunburn In Babies:
Look for the following signs in your baby after a day out in the sun.
- Significant burns
- Blistering in skin
- 3-Degree fever
- Excess Sweating
- Cranky Baby
- Pus in the sore
Prevention Of Sunburn In Babies:
In sunburn, prevention is paramount. Here’s how to keep your child safe:
1. Limit the exposure to sunlight:
The rays of the sun are strongest at 10 a.m. and at 4 p.m. Try to keep your child in the shade during those peak hours.
2. Use sunscreen:
There are a dozen formulas out there, so carefully choose them. Look for a children’s sunscreen, at least SPF 15 and ideally SPF 30 to 50, which provides full-spectrum protection, meaning it protects against both UVB rays, a major cause of sunburn, and UVA rays, which can lead to premature skin aging and skin cancer. It should also be waterproof and formulated to the sensory skin (the most babies that sit on top of the skin rather than absorbed by titanium dioxide are hypoallergenic ingredients). If possible, perform a patch test 48 hours before using a new product on the baby’s arm.
Once you determine that it is not going to cause a rash, apply the product 15 to 30 minutes before going out. Use the sunscreen sparingly on small areas of the baby body, including the face and back of the hands, for babies younger than 6 months (shade and protecting clothes are an excellent way to protect the sun against the slightest). Sunscreen reapplies to older babies early, frequently and liberally.
3. Wisely choose the clothing:
To protect the eyes, face, and neck, opt for hats with brims and back flaps. Older babies are also supposed to wear sunglasses (labeled to block 100% UV rays). Lightweight but tightly woven to shield skin from the sun are the best clothes for Tots.
4. Make your own shade:
For everyday protection, a good sunshade or parasol is key. Set up a large umbrella or portable tent at the beach or pool so there’s always a shady shelter for your baby.
Treatment Of Sunburn In Babies:
Your primary task is to soothe the pain if your child gets burned. Here’s what you should do:
- Apply 10 to 15 minutes of cool tap – water compresses, three to four times a day.
- To soothe the skin, use aloe – vera gel or a hypoallergenic moisturizer.
- If there is a lot of pain and/or swelling, with your pediatrician’s approval, you may give acetaminophen (for babies 2 months or older) or ibuprofen (an anti-inflammatory for babies 6 months or older).
- Stay out of the sun until your child’s sunburn has healed fully.
When to Consult a Doctor?
For parents, a newborn with sunburn may be agonizing. A cream to prevent babies from sunburn is, therefore, the best way to avoid it. Sunburn on the baby’s face, however, is the most common of all as the face is the part of a baby’s body that is mostly exposed to the sun.
Call the pediatrician immediately if your baby is younger than 1 year old and gets a sunburn. And for older children, if the burn is anything more than mild and is accompanied by blistering, fever or a lot of pain, it is a good idea to keep your doctor in the loop. Your practitioner can help you decide whether or not a baby needs pain medicine or a visit to an office. If the burning appears to be extensive, very painful and/or accompanied by vomiting, your baby may have a heat stroke and need immediate medical attention.
Sunburns can make your baby feel miserable, but with precautions, it’s also a condition you can prevent. Remember to dress your babies properly before going out in the sun and check for signs of sunburn if they are exposed to the rays for longer than a few minutes. Children are unable to express their sunburn-related pain, so you need to be careful to minimize the effect.
A baby whose face has sunburn is not life-threatening. However, a child’s repercussions can be painful and agonizing because of it. It is, therefore, best to avoid it.
Also Read: How Influenza Affects Children And Babies