I am fair skinned, very fair, and our kids inherited the same pasty-white, freckly skin and golden hair. Cute, yes, but not ideal sun protection. Our kids burn easily and quickly, so we are very diligent with sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and clothing. But mistakes happen and it is pretty difficult to ensure every centimeter of your child's skin is covered 100 per cent of the time. My middle son had a mild burn to the side of his neck last week, despite our best efforts. Mistakes happen.
With summer in full force, and many of us playing outside each day, we need to make sure we protect our skin to prevent sun damage. Unfortunately, even one burn can double your child's lifetime risk of serious skin cancer. One burn! If you or your child has suffered a burn, here are some tricks to minimize the pain and skin damage:
1. Act quickly
If you start feeling skin pain, or notice your child starting to turn red, LEAVE THE SUN. What looks mildly pink now may be bright red and very painful within a few hours even once you have gone inside.
2. Cool it down
Take a cold bath or shower or use cold compresses to cool the skin down. The skin will continue to burn if the skin is hot.
After cooling the skin, slather on a moisturizing cream or lotion. Repeat frequently. Products containing aloe, vitamin A and E may help, but the evidence isn't conclusive.
Burning the skin actually draws fluids away from the body to the skin surface. Drinking extra fluids in the first few days can mitigate this and prevent dehydration. Kids are particularly vulnerable to dehydration so pay attention to signs such as lethargy, headache and decreased urination.
5. Treat pain
Sometimes burns are very uncomfortable or even itchy. A topical steroid cream or ointment may help for a couple of days. Ask your doctor.
6. Decrease swelling
As soon as you see signs of sunburn, consider taking or giving your child ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory medicine, which will decrease pain, redness and swelling, and may prevent worsening of the burn.
7. Seek help
If the burn is covering more than 20 per cent of your or your child's body, accompanied by significant pain or dehydration, or is severe with blistering, see your doctor. Burn management may be necessary, with special burn dressings or medications.
8. Learn from your mistakes
So you got burned. It isn't fun. Now learn from your mistake and do better next time. Apply a high SPF sunscreen 15 minutes before going in the sun, wear a wide brimmed hair and sunglasses, and long clothing as tolerated. Seek shade, and avoid high sun from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Reapply sunscreen often, especially after being wet from sweat and swimming.
Be a role model for your kids and practice good sun safety along with them. Your skin will thank you!
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