8 Ways To Prevent Sunburns

Mother Applying Sunscreen cream to her daughter for sunburns

With a little planning and preparation, fun in the sun for your kids doesn’t have to mean painful sunburns in Rexburg or anywhere else. They can spend plenty of time soaking up the sun by following a few preventative measures. Of course, that doesn’t always happen. So if you need some tips on how to treat sunburns, we’ll throw some of those in as well to make sure you have peace of mind. But first, let’s take a quick look at what a sunburn is.


Just what is a sunburn anyway? A sunburn — red, painful skin that feels hot to the touch — usually appears within a few hours after too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from sunshine or artificial sources. If you think your child has sunburns, look for these symptoms:

  • Reddened skin
  • Painful to the touch
  • Blisters
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Rash
  • Nausea
  • Peeling skin

The symptoms are short-term (temporary) and should go away in three to five days. But the real problem is that sunburn can cause permanent damage to the DNA of your child’s skin. Time in the sun also increases the risk of early skin aging and skin cancer — the most common form of cancer.

Who Is At Risk?

Children at the most risk for sunburn are those who:

  • Fair skin.
  • Have skin that is exposed to the sun during the day.
  • Don’t wear protective clothing in the sun.
  • Don’t wear sunscreen with strong enough sun protection.

Here Are 8 Tips To Protect Your Kids From Sunburns

The Mayo Clinic suggests the following tips for sunburn prevention for kids. This is useful information, not just for the summer heat, but also on cool, cloudy days, when you are around water, snow, and sand and at high altitudes.


There are a few accessories you can add to your look that will give you additional protection. One would be a hat that provides shade for your face, neck, and ears. Another would be a quality pair of sunglasses. Sunglasses with lenses that have UV absorption go a long way toward protecting the eyes and surrounding skin. Look at the UV rating when you are selecting sunglasses for your kids. Note that darker lenses are not necessarily better at protecting from UV rays. For increased protection, choose glasses that fit close to their face and include wraparound frames.

Proper Clothing

Keeping your skin covered is one of the best ways to avoid sunburns. A long-sleeve shirt and long pants keep the skin covered up and safe from the suns rays. Dark clothing protects the skin better than light clothing. And if you want to go even further, look for clothing that is made with some special sun-protective material. Check the label for its ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). The higher the number, the better.


There are some medications that can make the skin more sensitive to the rays of the sun. Common drugs that make you more sensitive to sunlight include antihistamines, ibuprofen, certain antibiotics, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and some cholesterol-lowering drugs. If your child is taking medication and you aren’t sure how if may affect their skin in the sun, give us a call.


When a child is going to be spending time outside, they should have sunscreen applied a few minutes (15-30) before they go outside. It should be applied generously in addition to using lip balm. You should use balm that contains sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays, and that is waterproof. Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours and closer to every hour if kids are swimming or sweating. Don’t forget to check the labels for directions on storing and expiration dates. You should throw sunscreen away if it’s expired or more than three years old.

Water & Sand

A lot of sunburns happen when children are playing in the water or on the sand. One reason is that both of these surfaces will reflect the harmful rays of the sun — increasing the chance of burning the skin.


It is best avoid having your baby in the sun for extended periods of time. But when they are in the sunlight, children younger that six months should be completely covered and in the shade to protect their new skin from the sun. Slathering their whole body in sunscreen (like you might for an older chile) isn’t safe for very young babies. Because they are so small, they could be exposed to more of the chemicals in sunscreen than older children.

Time Of Day

The suns rays are most dangerous from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is when the sun is the most intense and will cause the worst sunburns. Limit the time that kids are in the sun during these hours when possible. Try to schedule outdoor activities at other times of the day. But if that won’t work, limit the length of time your kids are in the sun and make sure they seek shade when possible.


Kids should avoid sun tanning and tanning beds. Using tanning beds to obtain a base tan doesn’t decrease your risk of sunburn. Older children especially want to look good with a nice tan, but that comes with risks. The UVA rays that cause a tan can also cause serious damage and potentially lead to illness or even skin cancer. 

Sunburn Treatment

When you think your child has a sunburn (or may be on the verge of getting burned), the first thing to do is get them out of the sun. Kids are usually too busy playing to realize they are getting burned and need to get out of the sun. If going inside isn’t an option, then getting in the shade or adding layers of clothing are the next best options. Once inside, sunburn treatment should include:

  • Cool the skin with a shower, bath, or damp cloth.
  • Keep the child hydrated.
  • Apply moisturizing lotion.

Follow this process a couple of times daily while their skin recovers from the sunburn.Here are some additional tips for using lotion or creams from the American Academy of Dermatology. Take extra care of your child while they heal. Keep them inside to allow for faster recovery. They’ll be more comfortable wearing loose clothing that doesn’t rub on the burned skin. Try to make sure they don’t pick at the area, rub it, or make it peel.

When They Need Medical Attention

A sunburn requiring medical attengion is rare. But if you are worried about your child, look for these symptoms — chills, headaches, confusion, faintness, sensitivity to light, fatigue, nausea, fever, discoloration, facial swelling, clammy skin, rapid pulse or breathing, and blistering on a large portion of their body.

Just 4 Kids Urgent Care

Keep in mind that it takes about 24 hours for the full effect of a sunburn to set in. And it may take several days to completely go away. We want to help you make sure your child doesn’t suffer from a painful sunburn. But we know it is bound to happen at some point. Especially when kids are playing in the water. Check out this article for some water safety tips and if you need treatment for your child or just guidance on what to do for your own peace of mind read this sunburn treatment blog post and remember that we are the experts in treating your sunburned toddlers, teens, and in-betweens! We’ll take great care of your child!


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