Sunburn and sunscreen | Babies |

Sunburn and sunscreen

My child has a sunburn. How can I treat him?

Give your child plenty to drink to compensate for the loss of fluid from the sun. To alleviate the sunburn yourself, put a cotton cloth in cool water, wring it out and gently place it on the affected area for a quarter of an hour. Repeat this several times a day, but make sure it does not make your child feel cold. Compresses with buttermilk, quark or chamomile tea also have a cooling and soothing effect on the skin.

Maybe your child may take a cold bath, but then without soapy bath products. Or you dab (do not rub!) A moisturizing water-based cream or a gel, for example, with aloe vera. Make sure that the cream contains no alcohol, because it dries out the skin and burns. Homeopathically, you can either apply Calendumed gel or give Belladonna beads.

Dress your child in loose-fitting, light clothing that does not scratch. Keep your little one away from the sun until the skin is completely healed - as long as the risk of a renewed sunburn is particularly high.

A few things you should definitely avoid:

  • Do not use oils or greasy creams for skin treatment, as they prevent the child from sweating and the heat can not escape from the body. Instead, it can make burning worse.
  • Do not use ice cubes to cool, they will damage the skin (frostbite!).
  • Do not push or prick fire blisters. They have been created to protect the lower layers of the skin and, when opened, can cause infection. When the blisters open by themselves, the skin underneath is usually healed, albeit still very sensitive.

Why is a sunburn questionable?

A sunburn is an acute inflammation, it is literally a burn. Your child may only experience a first degree burn, which means that the skin becomes red, slightly swelling and hurts. A second degree burn is worse in every way: the redness, the pain, the swelling are more severe and the skin can blister.

A first degree burn usually heals within two to five days, a second degree burn takes a few weeks to heal. In this case, you should also go to the pediatrician with your child - infrequently, a hospitalization may be necessary.

In addition, your child may get heat stroke if it has been in the sun too long.

Even worse, however, may be the late effects of a sunburn. Even the first bad sunburn can be a trigger for diseases in adulthood. For example, scientific studies have shown that many skin cancers were exposed to the sun in their early years. Although sunburn does not automatically cause skin cancer, the skin "stores" this injury and the cell structure may change.

Do I have to worry about skin damage?

Unfortunately yes. About 80 percent of the sun's radiation in life is absorbed during the first 20 years. Exposing yourself to the UV light of the sun is the main cause of skin cancer of all kinds.

Some studies suggest that childhood sunburn causes malignant melanoma - the most insidious form of skin cancer. The first years of life up to the age of 12 years are crucial. An Australian study suggests that four out of five skin cancers could be avoided if treated appropriately cautiously.

Blonde, fair-skinned, freckled, green-eyed or blue-eyed children are at the highest risk of skin damage and cancer from the sun, but the radiation is dangerous for everyone.

When should I go to the doctor?

If it is just a mild sunburn and your child's skin is reddened and sensitive, then you do not need to go to the doctor. But if your child has any of the following symptoms, then a doctor's visit is needed:

  • Within the first 24 hours, blisters form on the skin
  • Hands or face swell
  • Signs of infection (pus or red welts)
  • fever
  • Extreme pain or discomfort
  • Nausea, vomiting or fainting

The sunburn can get worse for a day or two, so be wary of these symptoms for at least that long.

What if the skin peels?

Do not worry if your child's skin peels after a sunburn. This is a normal part of the healing process and starts a few days after the sunburn.

How can I protect my child from sunburn?

It's not hard, but you have to be very careful. In a child, after 5 to 10 minutes in the direct sun, there is a risk of sunburn - in adults, it takes an average of 10 to 15 minutes. Infants should therefore be exposed as little as possible to the direct sun, but stay in the shade.

On sunny days, it is best to put on your child's clothing for a long time, and then wear airy clothing that is not sunproof. Suitable clothing is:

  • Sunhat (no baseball cap that does not protect the neck!),
  • long, thin pants
  • long-sleeved, wide T-shirt
  • Shoes or baby socks
  • a pair of sunglasses if your child voluntarily keeps them

For children there are special clothes with UV protection buy. This so-called UV protection factor for baby clothes should be around 30.

Never underestimate the power of the sun: even in spring and autumn it can already be dangerously strong, and even in cloudy conditions, 80% of the UV radiation still works. Especially in the midday heat between 11 and 15 o'clock, when the sunlight is most intense, you should leave your child in the house or at least in the shade.

Keep in mind that not only do you need to protect your child on the beach during their summer vacation, but also when playing in the sandbox, family picnic or visiting the zoo.

Be a good role model for your child: your child is more likely to protect himself from the sun when he sees that mom and dad are doing it too. Protect yourself by wearing appropriate clothing and do not sunbathe extensively while keeping your child in the shade. Childhood also lays the foundation for rational behavior in later life: if your child now learns how important a good sunscreen is and sticks to it, it will most likely continue to do so later.

Where you can not protect the skin with clothing, you should carefully cream your child with sunscreen (at least SPF 20). When purchasing the sunscreen, make sure that it is suitable for small children, adult products contain many more additives and may contain allergy-causing substances, hormones and chemical filters that are unsuitable for sensitive children's skin. Alcohol-based products or gels can dry out the skin.

When using sunscreen, consider the following:

  • Cream your child about 15 to 30 minutes before leaving home. So the agent can develop its full protection.
  • Shave thoroughly and carefully, do not forget the ears, the eye area and - if the child is barefoot - the soles of the feet.
  • Much helps a lot. Do not be frugal when applying.
  • Repeat the creaming regularly. This will help protect you, but it will not extend your child's time in the sun
  • Cream your child again even after bathing, even if you use a waterproof sunscreen.


WHO: radiation, Factsheet, July 2001, [as of June 2015]

Tamburlini, G .; von Ehrenstein, O .; Bertolini, R. (ed.): Childrens Health and Environment: A Review of Evidence, Environmental Issue Report, European Environment Agency, No. 29, Luxembourg 2002. [as of June 2015]

German Cancer Aid (Hrsg.): "Tips for sun protection for kindergarten children & primary school students" [as of June 2015]

Bundesverband der Unfallkassen (Hrsg.): "GUV-SI 8080 Sun Fun and Sun Protection for Children and Adolescents", May 2007 issue, Munich 2007. [as of June 2015]

Working Group Dermatological Prevention (ADP) e. V.
on the Internet at: [as of June 2015] Advertising

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