- moles on their skin (or whose parents have a tendency to develop moles)
- very fair skin and hair
- a family history of skin cancer, including melanoma
Because infants have thinner skin and underdeveloped melanin, their skin burns more easily than that of older kids. But sunscreen should not be applied to babies under 6 months of age, so they absolutely must be kept out of the sun whenever possible. If your infant must be in the sun, dress him or her in clothing that covers the body, including hats with wide brims to shadow the face. Use an umbrella to create shade.
With the right precautions, kids can safely play in the sun. Here are the most effective strategies:
Avoid the Strongest Rays of the Day
Use Protective Eyewear for Kids
- Have your child take a cool (not cold) bath, or gently apply cool, wet compresses to the skin to help alleviate pain and heat.
- To ease discomfort, apply pure aloe vera gel (available in most pharmacies) to any sunburned areas.
- Give your child an anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen or use acetaminophen to lessen the pain and itching. (Do not, however, give aspirin to children or teens.) Over-the-counter diphenhydramine may also help reduce itching and swelling.
- Apply topical moisturizing cream to rehydrate the skin and treat itching. For the more seriously sunburned areas, apply a thin layer of 1% hydrocortisone cream to help with pain. (Do not use petroleum-based products, because they prevent excess heat and sweat from escaping. Also, avoid first-aid products that contain benzocaine, which may cause skin irritation or allergy.)
Be Sun Safe Yourself
Don't forget: Be a good role model by consistently wearing sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater, using sunglasses, and limiting your time in the sun. These preventive behaviors not only reduce your risk of sun damage, but teach your kids good sun sense.