The best idea is to avoid getting sunburned in the first place. While there are many so-called sunburn remedies, none are highly effective. Sunburn should be treated as a medical emergency in a baby under one year of age. If the child is over age one, a doctor should be consulted if there are severe pain, blistering, lethargy, or fever over 101°F.
If a child gets sunburned, she should drink water or juice to replace fluids. Acetaminophen should be given for fever over 101°F. The skin should be soaked in tepid, clear water, followed by application of a light moisturizing lotion. If touching the skin is painful, lotion should not be applied. Dabbing plain calamine (without antihistamine) lotion may help. Compresses may help the pain, using a variety of ingredients such as skim milk and water, aluminum acetate baths (as contained in Buro-Sol antiseptic powder or Domeboro's powder), oatmeal, or witch hazel. Soap or bubble baths should not be used on sunburned skin because these products can irritate tender flesh. Alternatively, a cornstarch paste, raw cucumber or potato slices, yogurt, or tea bags soaked in cool water may ease the sting. Aloe (the oil from the aloe plant) may be applied directly to the skin for sunburn relief for children who are not allergic to aloe.
Alcohol should not be applied, because it may cool the skin too much. Likewise, no medicated cream (such as hydrocortisone or benzocaine) should be used unless the baby's doctor prescribes it. The child should be kept completely out of the sun until the burn is healed.
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