Dr. Kara Beair, DO & Kim Beair, MS, LPC, NCC
Inspiring Strategies for Success by Friends and Experts You Can Trust
Keep yourself and your kids burn free this summer by taking a few tips to heart. No one is immune from sunburn and skin damage; even those with darker skin tones need to be careful to avoid pain now, and complications later in life. A good majority of sun damage happens in childhood and adolescence.
Invisible ultraviolet rays are harmful, and are just as present on foggy or hazy days as they are on sunny days. In fact, kids play longer when it’s cooler and pleasant, so be even more mindful on those days as normal cues to get out of the sun will be less evident than on blazingly hot days.
UV rays also reflect off a variety of surfaces like sand, water and even snow, so hats blocking the rays above won’t necessarily protect from the rays bouncing off other surfaces. UV rays are at their peak between 10am and 4pm, so take extra care to keep kids out of the sun during that time, or take extra measures of protection.
In addition to the general rules of avoiding excessive exposure, always check with your physician or pharmacist if you or your kids are taking any kind of medication. It may cause extra sensitivity when your skin is exposed to light. Certain medical conditions can also be exacerbated by sun exposure. Apply bug spray and sunscreen at different times, so they don’t interfere with the effectiveness of each other.
Sunburn can appear between six to twelve hours after the exposure, and pain will be most intense during the first day. Sunburn results in pain, redness and warming of the skin. More advanced cases result in fever, blistering, headache, chills and overall feelings of illness. Even without a burn, the skin can still be sustaining harm and potentially long term damage, especially since each exposure builds on previous ones. Adults may suffer from cancer, freckles, wrinkling or toughening of skin.
For red, warm, and painful burns, cool compresses or cool baths will help relieve some of the pain. Acetaminophen can also do the trick – just make sure to check the label or consult your child’s pediatrician for the appropriate dosage for their height and weight.
Call the pediatrician immediately if your child feels generally ill, has chills, headache, fever or blistering. Remember, a sunburn must be treated in severe cases just like any other serious burn. There are times hospitalization is necessary, and if blisters become infected, antibiotics may be in order. Dehydration can lead to heatstroke, so it is better safe than sorry. As is often the case, burns can happen on holidays or weekends, so take advantage of your local urgent care or emergency room if you need to.
Here are some other tips for a pain free summer of sun:
- Always use sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15. Apply it 15 to 30 minutes before going outside.
- Reapply every hour, especially if in the water. NO SUNSCREEN IS WATERPROOF.
- Wear the lightest weight clothing possible with long sleeves and long pants, if appropriate.
- Use beach umbrellas to create shade.
- Wear hats with wide brims.
- Keep babies under 6 months out of direct sunlight. (If adequate clothing and shade are not available, sunscreen may be used on small areas of the body, such as the face and the backs of the hands).
Information adapted from “Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age Five (2009) from the American Academy of Pediatrics
Kim Beair, MS, LPC, NCC is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Oklahoma and National Certified Counselor
DISCLAIMER: The information presented in this email or blog and any related links is provided for educational, informational, and entertainment purposes only. You must never consider any of the information presented here as a substitute for consulting with your physician or health care provider for any medical/mental health conditions or concerns. Any information presented here is general information, is not medical advice, nor is it intended as advice for your personal situation. Please consult with your physician or health care provider if you have concerns about your health or suspect that you might have a problem.
Photo credit © Alena Ozerova