KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Sunburns are painful and some are serious enough to send kids to the hospital. Prevention is key but even with the best measures, sun damage can happen. Dr. Shannon Cohen from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital shares some tips to prevent and treat sunburns.

Sunburn can happen quickly. Within 15 minutes of being in sun, you can get sunburned but redness and discomfort may not be noticed for hours. Even one blistering burn can double a child’s lifetime risk of melanoma.


A mild sunburn will have skin redness and warmth as well as pain and itchiness. A severe sunburn can have skin redness and blistering, pain and tingling, and swelling. Symptoms also include headache, nausea, fever and chills, and dizziness.


  • Remove child from sun right away.
  • Place child in a cool (not cold) shower or bath. A cool compress can help as well.
  • Give extra fluids for the next two to three days.
  • Give your child ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain.
  • Use moisturizing creams or aloe gel to provide comfort.
  • Stay out of the sun until completely healed.

When to bring your child to the ER

  • If sunburn forms blisters or is extremely painful.
  • If sunburn covers a large area.
  • If your child has fever or chills.
  • If your child has headache, confusion or a feeling of faintness.
  • If you see signs of dehydration like increased thirst or dry eyes and mouth.


Keep babies 6 months and younger out of the sun. Always wear broad spectrum sunscreen and reapply often. Minimize sun exposure during 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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